Sri Lanka hang on for draw after brutal Shami, Bhuvneshwar bursts
At half-past four, with seven wickets down and India's tail up, the light deteriorated enough to help Sri Lanka draw an absolutely riveting Test
Sri Lanka 294 (Herath 67, Mathews 52, Thirimanne 51, Bhuvneshwar 4-88, Shami 4-100) and 75 for 7 (Bhuvneshwar 4-8) drew with India 172 (Pujara 52, Lakmal 4-26) and 352 for 8 dec. (Kohli 104*, Dhawan 94, Rahul 79, Shanaka 3-76, Lakmal 3-93)Scorecard and ball-by-ball details Virat Kohli
's 50th international century set up a fascinating conclusion to the Kolkata Test. It helped India declare at 352 for 8 and set Sri Lanka 231 to win at Eden Gardens. India's seamers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, then found conventional seam movement and reverse swing to leave Sri Lanka's middle order battling for survival in rapidly-fading light in a dramatic fifth-day finish. Somehow, Sri Lanka huffed, puffed and prevented India from blowing their house down, with three wickets in hand.
After hours lost to rain over the first two days, the match came down to the final few minutes, with Shami and Bhuvneshwar hurrying back to their mark and Sri Lanka trying to delay the game to force a draw. Eventually, the light was deemed unfit at 4.28pm local, around the same time play was called off on the fourth day.
In seven tentative overs prior to tea, Sri Lanka lost their openers Sadeera Samarawickrama and Dimuth Karunaratne, both chopping on to wide deliveries they had no reason to play at. India's quicks got the ball to move again, not prodigiously but sufficiently, up until that point. First-innings half-centurions Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne were dismissed soon after tea, opening up an out-of-form middle order.
Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella stalled India's momentum with a feisty 47-run stand. At one stage in that stand, India's frustration with Dickwella backing away from facing Shami boiled over to a point where the umpires needed to intervene. It ate into time, but that didn't deter India.
Sri Lanka's task was made significantly harder by Bhuvneshwar and Shami both producing varying degrees of movement. Shami went through Chandimal's defenses with a sharp inswinger, while an indipper pitched a tad shorter beat Dilruwan Perera on the outside edge, and knocked into his off stump. Three middle-order wickets in 28 balls gave India a sniff, but in the end, bad light put an end to a riveting Test.
That India were given a chance was down to Kohli's 18th Test century. Batsmen treasure centuries in such challenging conditions and Kohli's was a classy effort. Prior to lunch, he was in a battle of attrition. He survived a close call when he gloved a short delivery past the wicketkeeper to get off a pair, but left well thereafter. When Sri Lanka erred too full, he drove through the line, accumulating more than half of his runs - 22 of 41 - in the arc between cover and mid-on.
India lost R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha to tame strokes after lunch, but Kohli remained watchful. It was only when Sri Lanka took the new ball that something changed. A half-lunge meant to help him play close to the body while defending gave way to a confident, long stride and free-flowing shots. Sri Lanka's seamers were looking for wickets, and rightly bowling full, but with hardly any swing, Kohli met the ball as early as possible as he drove and flicked merrily. He made 46 runs off 26 balls since the 80th over.
In the 83rd though, Kohli was given out lbw off the bowling of Lakmal when he missed a routine flick. He reviewed immediately, and replays showed a thin inside edge. Back came the swagger: a jig with the 12th man, cheerful smiles with Bhuvneshwar and more importantly, the full range of attacking strokes.
Sri Lanka, though, dominated the majority of the first two sessions. Suranga Lakmal was the only bowler to hit a high 130 kmph range and produce appreciable lateral movement. First, he set KL Rahul up with a few deliveries hung outside off. Rahul stayed patient, waiting for Lakmal to overpitch. Then came the big, booming inducker, attacking the pads and stumps. Rahul's balance was thrown off by the change in line as he fell over a flick, and the ball found a considerable gap between bat and pad.
He produced the ball of the morning to have Cheteshwar Pujara, who became the ninth player to bat on all five days of a Test, caught at gully. A back of a length delivery kicked up off the pitch a lot higher than Pujara expected and it lobbed over to Dilruwan at gully, who took a sharp, low catch. Four balls later, Lakmal had another good-length delivery hooping back in to beat Ajinkya Rahane's inside edge and trap him lbw for 0. With the ball moving both ways, Sri Lanka believed they had a fair chance on their own terms. India though, like they have done on several occasions in home Tests over the last few years, turned the tables drastically on the visitors.
Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo