Sri Lanka close in on first-innings lead in Kolkata
Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews helped Sri Lanka move to within touching distance of a first-innings lead over India in Kolkata.
India's Kolkata frustrations continued on day three of the first Test as Sri Lanka laid the foundations for a first-innings lead thanks to Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews.
Despite the opening two days of the first Test being delayed by rain, India still lost quick wickets when play was possible and started Saturday 74-5, with Cheteshwar Pujara closing in on a half century.
He was unable to get to 50, though, as Sri Lanka's bowlers – led by Suranga Lakmal (4-26) – continued to cause problems, but a late wag from the India tail lifted the hosts to 172 all out.
While respectable given their earlier problems, India's total quickly looked in trouble as Thirimanne (51) and Mathews (52) flourished – Sri Lanka reaching the close seven runs adrift on 165-4.
A draw still looks the most likely outcome with just two days remaining, but a lot will depend on how many runs Niroshan Dickwella (14 not out) and Dinesh Chandimal (13no) can add before India bat again.
For the first time in the Test play got underway on time, but those hoping to see Pujara raise his bat were quickly disappointed as he was clean bowled by an inswinging delivery from Lahiru Gamage.
Ravindra Jadeja (22) and Wriddhiman Saha (29) then enjoyed the biggest partnership of India's innings as they batted resolutely to put on 48. However, both men fell in one Dilruwan Perera over to leave them 128-8 and facing a poor first-innings total.
Bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav showed their batsmen how it should be done with some extravagant shots, the trio pushing India to a more respectable tally.
The dismissals of Dimuth Karunaratne and Sadeera Samarawickrama, both to Bhuvneshwar, gave India early hope as Sri Lanka slipped to 34-2 in the seventh over.
That brought Thirimanne and Mathews together and they used all their experience to give Sri Lanka added confidence of securing a result.
India should have been celebrating the departure of Thirimanne for 27 in the 18th over, though, when Yadav found his outside edge with a delivery that held its line.
However, the thick edge was shelled by Shikhar Dhawan at first slip, and Thirimanne made them pay with his first 50 since August 2015.
Mathews reached the same milestone three overs later, but Thirimanne had already returned to the dressing room having been caught sensationally by Virat Kohli at second slip – the India captain flying to his left to see off the left-hander.
Yadav claimed another wicket as Mathews gave a simple catch to KL Rahul as short cover, and India looked like having a profitable final session.
Chandimal and Dickwella survived that fine spell of bowling before bad light brought an early finish to proceedings.