Chasing 410 to win, in four sessions Sri Lanka was on the ropes at 31 for 3 wickets when bad light ended play on the fourth day of the third test with 13 overs remaining on the New Delhi track. Gone were Sadeera Samarawickrema (05), Dimuth Karunaratne (13) and night watchman Suranga Lakmal for a duck. At the wickets were Dhananjaya De Silva on 13 in a defiant 30 ball stay in testing times and Angelo Mathews yet to score.
The rot was triggered by the dismissal of Sadeera Samarawickrema for 5 in the fifth ball of the sixth over who was undone by some hostile bowling by paceman Mohammad Sami who softened him up by a bouncer that unsteadied him on to the ground while ducking. The next delivery was as lethal as the right hander walked in to a bouncer and gloving it to the gully fielder. followed out b0y a Next to go was Dimuth Karunaratne pole axed by a Jadeja top spinner as he stretched to edge to the wicket-keeper. It was a nightmare match for the usually reliable Karunaratne who faced 46 balls in the wake of a first innings first ball duck. That was in the first delivery of the 16th over when the total was 31. Night watchman Suranga Lakmal too exited two balls later without scoring miscuing a defensive stroke and playing on to his stumps to give Jadeja his second wicket.
Sri Lanka was unfortunate not to get the benefit of the deteriorating light with an over left for the day. That was when Nigel Llong having had a measured look at his light meter decided to play on.
Sri Lanka’s first innings ended on 373 with skipper Dinesh Chandimal’s marathon innings coming to an end for a career best 164 and his 10th the Sri Lankans, despite pinning India on 1 for 10 and 2 f0r 29 with the early wickets of M. Vijay (09) and A.M. Rahane (10), had to contend with the strong run machine fronted by half centuries by S. Dhawan (67), Rohit Sharma (50 not out) and skipper Virat Kohli (50). India went on to post 246 for 5 wickets declared as Kohli looked at four sessions to go for a win. India profited from a 90-run fifth wicket alliance between Kohli and Sharma after Dhawan and and C. Pujara’s 77 for the third wicket.
Sri Lanka will go in to the final day where the rest of the frontline batsmen will need to buckle down to the strict business of scripting test cricket batting knowing very well that they cannot afford to throw out of the window the enormous hard work by skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews who batted Sri Lanka back in to contention. The Indians as we all know are lions in their own den and have come back strongly, and it will require another truly herculean effort from the specialist batsmen to battle it out.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-