Colombo, Aug 5 (IANS) Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis posted half-centuries as Sri Lanka got off to a steady start in their second innings, posting 118/1 at tea after being forced to follow-on by India on the third day of the second cricket Test here on Saturday.
Mendis was batting on 61 while Karunaratne was on 55 when the umpires called for tea. The duo had posted a 111-run stand after opener Upul Tharanga was bowled by Indian quickie Umesh Yadav in the early stages.
The hosts had been dismissed for 183 in their first innings, handing the Indians a lead of 439.
With Indian captain Virat Kohli deciding to enforce the follow on, the Lankans started their second innings after lunch and straight away ran into trouble.
Yadav tasted success in the third over of the innings when Tharanga was beaten by an incoming delivery that rattled the stumps. Yadav had figures of 1/17 by the end of the session.
Karunaratne was batting comfortably, dispatching the ball to the boundary at regular intervals.
Mendis on the other hand, started a bit shakily, and was lucky to survive when a diving Shikhar Dhawan was unable to hold onto a catch at mid-on off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling.
The right-hander however, soon settled down and started to find the gaps regularly, hitting boundaries off two consecutive deliveries during Ashwin’s next over.
Earlier, Ashwin clinched a five-wicket haul as the Lankans were bowled for 183 runs in the first innings to hand India a massive lead of 439 runs at lunch.
Ashwin ended up with figures of 5/69 in 16.4 overs. Fast bowler Mohammed Shami bowled superbly for figures of 2/13 while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja returned 2/84. Umesh also bagged a wicket.
This is the 26th five-wicket haul for Ashwin in Test cricket, achieving the feat in his 51st appearance in the longest format of the game. He is placed second in the all-time list among Indian bowlers. Former leg-spinner Anil Kumble is at the top spot with 35 hauls from 132 Test matches.
Harbhajan Singh is third with 25 hauls from 103 Tests, the legendary Kapil Dev is placed fourth with 23 from 131 while B.S. Chandrashekhar has 16 from 58.
This is also the third highest first innings lead for India. The highest is 492 against Bangladesh in Dhakain 2007 while the lead of 478 runs against West Indies in the Kolkata Test of 2011 is second on the list.
Niroshan Dickwella was the highest scorer among the Lankans with a quickfire 51 runs off 48 deliveries which included seven boundaries and a six.
Resuming the day at 50/2, Sri Lanka lost wickets in quick succession. Quite a few of the Lankan batsmen managed to get decent starts but were unable to convert them into big scores.
Chandimal and Mendis departed shortly after the start of the day’s play before Dickwella and Angelo Mathews managed to hold the Indian bowlers at bay for a short while with a 53-run stand.
However, that only proved to be a short respite for the hosts and as soon as both departed in consecutive overs, the Indian bowlers were back on top.
The rest of the Lankan batsmen could not last on a pitch which was taking quite a bit of turn as the Indians tightened their grip on the match.
Sri Lanka: 183 and 118/1 (Kusal Mendis 61 batting, Dimuth Karunaratne 55 batting; Umesh Yadav 1/17) against India 622/9 declared.