Pujara wages lone battle as India totter at 74/5 at lunch

Kolkata, (IANS) Chesteshwar Pujara was three short of his 16th half century as India were further reduced to 74/5 at lunch on Day Two of the first Test at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.

Lunch had to be called early due to rain interrupting play half an hour before the break.

Pujara (47 off 102; 4×9) held fort at one end beginning the day on eight runs, while the other overnight batsman Ajinkya Rahane (4 off 21; 1×4) failed to get going falling to Dasun Shanaka (2/23) playing a poor shot as 21 overs were bowled in the first session.

Ashwin (4 off 21) was also guilty of a naive drive as India failed to recover from their overnight score of 17/3.

Suranga Lakmal, who returned magnificent figures of 6-6-0-3 on the rain-affected first day, conceded his first runs after 46 deliveries off the bat of Rahane, who three overs later fell prey to Shanaka.

Lakmal still had great figures to show for, leaking just five runs in 11 overs bowling nine maidens and taking three wickets.

On the first day, Lakmal accounted for openers K.L. Rahul (0), Shikhar Dhawan (8) and skipper Virat Kohli (0) in a dream spell of swing bowling on a green top.

Coming to Day two, a tempted delivery outside the off-stump took a thin edge off Rahane’s bat to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella as he tried to aimlessly drive through covers.

At 30/4, the hosts were in a spot of bother with Pujara finding himself alone in the middle tasked to bail the team out.

The in-form Saurashtra man played two exquisite off drives to Shanaka before taking on the same bowler few overs later for another four.

Pujara looked supreme on the off side, hitting Shanaka and Lahiru Gamage for two more boundaries past mid-off area.

He was equally comfortable on the backfoot, punching a short and wide Karu.

While bowling-allrounder R. Ashwin struggled to settle in, taking a knock on his hand in the 25th over off Lahiru Gamage’s bowling before ending his ordeal in the next over. Gamage remained wicketless with figures of 11.5-3-24-0.

Trying to drive a length Shanaka delivery, the right-hander, returning to international cricket after three months, gave an easy catch to Dimuth Karunaratne at backward point.

In came Wriddhiman Saha who also looked uncomfortable with the extra bounce on the wicket, going into the break unbeaten on 6 from 22 balls.

Brief scores: India (Overnight: 17/3) 74/5 (Cheteshwar Pujara 47; Suranga Lakmal (3-5)

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