On conditions that are tailor-made for fast bowlers, India’s seamers made life difficult for Sri Lankan batsmen as after two days of heavy rain, the third day’s play of the Kolkata Test was closely contested.
Sri Lanka had done well to bowl out India for 172, but soon found India’s seamers hard to cope with.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav picked up two wickets apiece but Mohammad Shami was the most impressive, bowling probing spells without much luck though. The tourists finished on 165 for 4 and trail India by seven runs with six wickets in hand.
Sri Lanka’s former captain Angelo Mathews, making a return to the side after a hamstring injury forced him out of the series against Pakistan, applauded the Indian bowling unit. “Shami, Bhuvneshwar and Umesh are world class fast bowlers. It was a challenging wicket. All three fast bowlers bowled well. They are very skilful and keep coming at you. You can’t relax. If you see the loose balls, they were very few,” Mathews told journalists.
“We need to be mentally prepared and be ready to score runs off them. I think we can. We have a good batting unit. [Lahiru] Thirimanne fought very hard out there in the middle. Credit to him for the way he played. But 50s won’t take us anywhere. We need to go on and score hundreds on this wicket. Hopefully we can carry forward the work that has been done so far. The top order has done a reasonable job,” Mathews added.
Like most batsmen in this game, Mathews had a fair share of luck with the seamers threatening to strike every over. “You are bound to get a good ball every over. As we have seen on this wicket, the liveliness has been there right throughout and it offers a lot for fast bowlers throughout. You have got to forget about the last ball and try and score as many as possible, wait for the loose ball and then score runs.”
When tea was taken, Sri Lanka had recovered to post 113 for 2. The 99-run stand for the third wicket ended when Thirimanne edged one to the slip cordon off the bowling of Umesh Yadav who also dismissed Mathews in his next over.
“I don’t think there was lapse of concentration. I was looking to score runs. It’s just that the ball stopped a little bit, but no excuse. I should have left it alone maybe. I was looking to score runs. You can’t hang in there forever. On this wicket you will get a good ball and you tend to get out. All in all you have got to score runs. It won’t be pretty. You can’t be fluent on this wicket. You have got to grind and try and score runs,” Mathews elaborated.
Mathews has lost a considerable amount of cricket this year due to multiple injuries. He has been nursing ankle, hamstring and quadriceps injuries that forced him to miss the limited-overs leg of South African tour, tour of Australia and UAE and the home series against Bangladesh.
“It has been a quite a frustrating year for me with injuries going in and out of the side. It’s not easy you know when you don’t have the same rhythm. I had a good three years of cricket from 2013 onward; I guess my body is taking a toll. I have to manage my workload. It comes with experience as well. I have played a few more games than the rest of the boys,” Mathews explained.