Sri Lanka’s last-wicket pair of Ramesh Mendis and Lakshan Jayasinghe held on bravely to deny India victory in the first Youth Test between the two countries in Dambulla on Friday.
Till Thursday, the penultimate day of the four-day match, it appeared that the home side would force a draw after being well-placed at 235 for 5 in their first innings, in reply to India's 503 for 7 declared.
However, on Friday, with the hosts needing another 119 to reach 354 and avoid the follow-on, the Indian pace duo of Atul Singh (3-39) and Chama Milind (2-41) changed the course of the match as they skittled out the last five Lankans for just 21 runs.
After enforcing the follow-on, the Indian bowlers picked wickets at regular intervals before Mendis (22 not out) and Jayasinghe (8 not out) offered dour resistance.
With defeat staring Sri Lanka at 241 for nine, six short of staving off an innings defeat, Mendis and Jayasinghe batted out 55 balls to save the day.
Mendis played 77 balls during his gritty unbeaten knock and was well-supported by last-man Jayasinghe, who defended at 29 deliveries while picking eight runs.
Sadeera Samarawickrama (88) top-scored for the Lankans in their second innings’ total of 264 for nine.
Thilaksha Sumanasiri (62) also scored a half-century for the hosts.
Singh (2-38), Milind (2-46), Kuldeep Yadav (2-100) and Shreyas Iyer (2-22) shared eight wickets between them.
The second and final Test of the series is at the Welagedara stadium, Kurunegala, from July 29 to August 1.
India (1st innings): 503 for 7 decl in 127 overs
Sri Lanka: 256 and 264 for 9 in 92 overs (Sadeera Samarawickrama 88, Thilaksha Sumanasiri 62; Shreyas Iyer 2-22).