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Karunaratne fifty steadies Sri Lanka in Nagpur

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Karunaratne fifty steadies Sri Lanka in Nagpur

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(Reuters) – Dimuth Karunaratne compiled a chance-filled fifty as Sri Lanka lost two more wickets in the afternoon to reach tea on 151 for four against India after winning the toss and opting to bat in the second match of their three-test series on Friday. Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal was batting on 47 with wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella on 18 at the interval in Nagpur. The visitors, who succumbed by a 9-0 margin across all formats at home against India earlier this year, did not get off to a great start when Sadeera Samarawickrama and Lahiru Thirimanne both fell cheaply on a greenish wicket before lunch. The breakthrough came when Cheteshwar Pujara took a brilliant low catch at first slip to send back Samarawickrama for 13 after the batsman got a thick edge to a delivery from paceman Ishant Sharma. The other wicket to fall in the morning saw Thirimanne perish when he attempted a rash sweep shot off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and was bowled for nine. Pujara was, however, guilty of putting down Karunaratne on 15 when the ball burst through his hands after the batsman had advanced down the pitch to Ashwin and played a lofted on-drive. The left-handed batsman survived another scare on 21 when replays showed left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja had no-balled after wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha had expertly whipped off the bails with the batsman out of his crease. Sri Lanka, who were unchanged from the drawn first test in Kolkata, were soon reduced to 60-3 after the break when they lost former captain Angelo Mathews leg before to Jadeja for 10. However, Karunaratne and Chandimal added 62 for the fourth wicket to steady the innings before Ishant finally dismissed the former leg before, but not before the left-handed batsman had scored his 14th half-century in tests. The hosts made three changes to the side from Kolkata with the experienced Ishant replacing Mohammed Shami, who missed out due to a niggle in his left hip. Murali Vijay returned at the top of the batting order after opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan opted out of the match for personal reasons. The final change saw batsman Rohit Sharma included for his first test in more than a year after he replaced seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who withdrew from the final two matches of the series to get married.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien)
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