Cheteshwar Pujara came to India's rescue after Sri Lankan seamer Dasun Shanaka's twin strike had left the hosts gasping at 74 for five on a second consecutive rain-curtailed day of the opening Test in Kolkata on Friday The heavens continued to pour, which meant no play was possible after lunch forcing the umpires to call off day's proceedings prematurely again. After just 11.5 overs were bowled yesterday, the Sri Lankan bowlers managed to get through 21 overs today.
After Suranga Lakmal's (3/5) exploits on the first day of the rain-affected series opener, it was Shanaka's turn to steal the limelight today as he removed Ajinkya Rahane (4) and Ravichandran Ashwin (4) to return with impressive figures of 2 for 23. Shanaka took both the wickets in the morning but Pujara anchored India's first innings on testing overcast conditions at the Eden Gardens.
Coming on to bat at the score of eight, Pujara faced 102 deliveries and struck nine fours in his knock, three runs away from what could be a memorable half-century as the India No 3 built his innings with supreme resolve. He was the lone Indian batsmen to produce some fight against the Sri Lankan bowling attack on a green top in overcast conditions. Pujara displayed impeccable defensive technique again and struck only the errant deliveries to score during his unbeaten 47-run knock.
Indians preferred to take Lakmal with extreme caution as the Lankan new-ball bowler finally ended his overnight spell from the High Court end for 11-9-5-3. On 24, Pujara was hit on his bottom hand - bowling hand - thumb by a rising short pitched delivery from Lahiru Gamage as he flung his gloves in pain in the 25th over. In the next over, Pujara lost Ashwin as Shanaka set him up with a bouncer and followed it with a good length delivery that was cut straight to point by the Indian off-spinner.
Pujara patiently waited for loose balls as the visitors got maximum purchase from Eden's green top, brilliantly aided by the overcast conditions. He was batting with Wriddhiman Saha after rain stopped play during the second day of the first Test.