Hardik Pandya celebrates his maiden Test ton © AFP
Hardik Pandya celebrates his maiden Test ton © AFP

India ruled Day 2 of the third Test versus Sri Lanka at Kandy, across departments. First session belonged to Hardik Pandya, second session to Mohammed Shami and third session to Kuldeep Yadav. For Sri Lanka, it was only skipper Dinesh Chandimal who tried to hang in the middle but to no avail. Pandya lit an almost empty ground at Pallekele on fire with his 83-ball ton. As for Sri Lanka, they looked lacking in the middle with hardly any determination or grit to show. Sri Lanka batted twice in the day and still remained 333 runs adrift of India’s first innings score of 487. Sri Lanka now heavily rely on their second innings specialists Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis to at least challenge India in this match.

Hardik Pandya-Kuldeep Yadav frustrate Sri Lanka: After Sri Lanka’s early scalp of Wriddhiman Saha, India was looking towards their 2-most talented players in Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav. With conditions overwhelmingly in favour of quick bowlers, Pandya and Kuldeep played out a hostile spell by Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando. Pandya did chance his bat once a while, but Kuldeep blocked and stonewalled almost everything he was thrown at. The pair ensured that India reached a sizeable target of 400 runs without any trouble. Soon, when spinners came on Pandya and Kuldeep both used their feet to good use despite being beaten on multiple occasions. The pair notched up their 50 runs in 93-balls.

Chinaman calling Chinaman: After a gap of nearly 20 years since Paul Adams bowled to Michael Bevan in 1997, we once again saw a rare sight of a Chinaman bowling to another Chinaman in Test. Sri Lanka’s Lakshan Sandakan was introduced into the attack against Kuldeep Yadav much to the excitement of scribes.

Knowing Kuldeep’s knowledge of the art of Chinaman, it would have been an easy task but rather turned out an intriguing battle. India’s Chinaman was found wanting against Sandakan early into his innings; he blocked, fended and missed few times. Sandakan had the last laugh nabbing Kuldeep’s wicket for 26 off  73 balls, finishing with figures of 5 for 132 in his 35.3 overs.

Hardik Panyda’s maiden Test ton: Already known for his explosive batting in limited-overs format, Pandya displayed superlative form in the middle. With the final two batsmen for support, he went berserk on Sri Lanka’s attack after crossing his fifty.

Pandya slammed his second fifty in merely 26 balls inclusive of 6 sixes and 3 fours. This includes hammering of Malinda Pushpakumara, 26-run in an over. In no time, Pandya reached his maiden Test and First-Class ton in 81 balls. His knocked ended on 108, as his became the final Indian wicket to fall.

Mohammed Shami’s thunderbolts: Having seen Pandya smack bowlers from the other end, Mohammed Shami also must have gotten fire under his belly. He came out roaring with the ball and wrecked havoc over Sri Lanka’s opening pair of Dimuth Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga. Shami extracted bounce from a biennial track. His bouncer to Kusal Mendis nearly took his head off.

Shami was absolutely unplayable in his first spell that led to wickets of Karunaratne and Tharanga, who were beaten by sheer pace. These two wickets became instrumental in Sri Lanka’s collapse.

Kuldeep Yadav’s trickery:  Seeing his Sri Lankan counterpart Lakshan Sandakan pick a 5-for, Kuldeep Yadav too brought his ‘A’ game in the middle. Impressive on his debut Test against Australia, Kuldeep made it look ever so easy at Kandy as he replaced Ravindra Jadeja. Kuldeep, not afraid to flight the ball, ended up showing almost every trick in the book he had against a panicky Sri Lankan line-up.

Out of Kuldeep’s 4 wickets, three were bowled while one was a caught behind. His deception in air and length was a sight for all purists today. His wicket of Malinda Pushpakumara demonstrated that.