At the end of another extraordinary day of cricket, the Indians sit in the driving seat with Sri Lanka desperate to stave off an innings defeat after the visitors mandated a follow-on with a massive first innings lead of 439 at the SSC yesterday. Sri Lanka replied strongly at stumps on day three reaching 209 [...]


Lankans fight back but salvage a long road ahead


The fightback…..Lankan batsman Kusal Mendis looks to the skies thankfully after scoring a hundred against the marauding Indian bowling attack while opener Dimuth Karunaratne who remained unbeaten on 92 at the end of the day looks on. (Pic Amila Gamage)

At the end of another extraordinary day of cricket, the Indians sit in the driving seat with Sri Lanka desperate to stave off an innings defeat after the visitors mandated a follow-on with a massive first innings lead of 439 at the SSC yesterday.

Sri Lanka replied strongly at stumps on day three reaching 209 runs for the loss of two wickets. But they still trailed by a further 230 runs and any chance of saving the Test for the home side remains a distance dream with two days of play left.

Unlike their reckless first innings, where they threw their wickets like marbles, Sri Lanka fought hard in the second innings. There is a distant possibility of avoiding an innings defeat if Sri Lanka continue to bat in a similar vein this morning. They lost opener Upul Tharanga to a ripper of a delivery from Umesh Yadav which crashed into the stump on the last ball of the third over but Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne retaliated with a perfect century stand to take Sri Lanka to a decent position.

Mendis who was reprieved on one by Shikhar Dhawan went onto hit his third century but fell 20 minutes before stump when an inside edged off Hardik Pandya and was brilliantly caught by diving gloveman Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps. By then Mendis had smashed 110 off 134 with 17 boundaries and shared a second wicket stand of 191 runs with Karunaratne who remains unbeaten on 92. Nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara remains on 2. Mendis and Karunaratne forced Indian skippers to dig deep into their reserves to break the partnership as they launched an aggressive approach as oppose to the first innings where they surrendered meekly against a top quality spin attack.

With the pitch offering unusual turn and bounce, Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, who claimed his 26th five-wicket haul, and Ravindra Jadeja ran through Sri Lanka’s fragile batting order when the hosts resumed play from their overnight score of 50 for 2. They then crumbled for a pathetic 183 all out in 49.4 overs by lunch on day three of their first innings.

On an atypical SSC pitch, Indian skipper Virat Kohli began the day with spinners and had almost immediate success when overnight pair of Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis took the long walk back to the dressing room after throwing their wickets away.

After losing two quick wickets early, something special was needed from skipper Chandimal and Mendis, two of the brightest prospects of Sri Lanka, but both succumbed to Indian aggression.

Chandimal, who missed the first Test in Galle due to pneumonia, then swept Ravindra Jadeja straight to Hardik Pandya at square leg. Jadeja, who at times generated vicious turn and bounce, nearly took his second wicket in the over but Indian skipper at gully dropped Angelo Mathews on naught. Kusal Mendis soon departed when a leading edged off Umesh Yadav flew towards mid-on and Kohli, running backwards, took a brilliant catch to dismiss him for 24.

With four wickets down for 64 runs and a mountain to climb, it was left to the experienced Angelo Mathews to salvage the game together with Dickwella. He decided attack was the best form of defense against the lethal spin attacks and hit couple of sixes off Jadeja before Pujara took a spectacular left-handed diving catch off Ashwin at leg gully to end his short vigil in the middle.

Dhananjaya de Silva walked back for a golden duck as Jadeja bowled him through the defence. Dickwella had scored his fifth half century and had all the time to construct a long innings. Instead, he scooped Mohammed Shami straight to wicket, ending his 48 ball 51 with seven boundaries and six.

Mohammed Shami bowled out Rangana Herath with a ripper for 2 before Dilruwan Perera (25) became Ashwin’s fourth victim of the match. Nuwan Pradeep, who has been ruled out of the Test series with a grade one hamstring injury, risked it further when he walked into bat at the fall of Perera. But he couldn’t do much as he fell for a six-ball duck when Ashwin bowled him through the gate to claim his first five-wicket haul in the three-match series.


India 1st innings 622 for 9 dec. (C. Pujara 133, A. Rahane 132, R. Jadeja 70no, W. Saha 67, L. Rahul 57, R. Ashwin 54; R. Herath 4-154)
Sri Lanka (overnight 50/2)
Dimuth Karunaratne c Rahane b Ashwin 25
(Pods with an angled bat with a very short stride,
edge to first slip)
Upul Tharanga c Rahul b Ashwin 0
(Whipped straight into Rahul’s midriff at short leg)
Kusal Mendis c Kohli b Yadav 24
(Taken at mid-on. Hit it over the infield but didn’t get enough power)
Dinesh Chandimal c Pandya b Jadeja 10
(Swept straight to square leg)
Angelo Mathews c Pujara b Ashwin 26
(Flick behind the square leg. Pujara diving to his leg side snaps a blinder)
Niroshan Dickwella b Shami 51
(Scooped the ball right back to the stumps)
Dhananjaya de Silva b Jadeja 0
(Quicker one. Beats the outside edge and kisses
the off bail)
Dilruwan Perera b Ashwin 25
(Tossed up outside off, spins in, floats through the gate to hit the stumps)
Rangana Herath b Shami 2
(Cleaned up)
Malinda Pushpakumara not out 15
Nuwan Pradeep b Ashwin 0
(Ball grazes the inside edge and rolls back onto the stumps)
Extras (b 4, lb 1) 5
TOTAL 183 all out (49.4 Overs)
FOW: 1-0, 2-33, 3-60, 4-64, 5117, 6-122, 7-150, 8-152, 9-171, 10-183
Bowling: Shami 6-1-13-2, Ashwin 16.4-3-69-5, Jadeja 22-6-84-2, Yadav 5-1-12-1
Sri Lanka second innings (trail by 439 runs)
Dimuth Karunaratne not out 92
Upul Tharanga b Yadav 2
(Through the gate as he went for the drive)
Kusal Mendis c Saha b Pandya 110
(Inside-edges it onto the pad, Saha dives and takes a clean catch behind wicket)
Malinda Pushpakumara not out 2
Extras (nb 2, w1) 3
TOTAL (for 2 wickets in 60 overs) 209
FOW: 1-7, 2-198
Bowling: Yadav 9-2-29-1, Ashwin 24-6-29-0,
Shami 6-2-13-0, Jadeja 16-2-76-0, Pandya 5-0-12-1
Yet to bat: LD Chandimal (c), AD Mathews, N Dickwella †, DM de Silva, MDK Perera, HMRKB Herath, ANPR Fernando

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