Sri Lanka vs India: Indian and Sri Lankan bowlers impress to leave Test firmly in the balance
Sri Lanka’s opening bowlers staged a remarkable fightback to restrict India to 21/3 at the end of the third day’s play, at the SSC Colombo. The late surge wrestled the advantage away from India who had gained a first-innings lead of 111 runs after dismissing the hosts for 201 in just over two sessions.
In spite of taking a healthy lead, India will be disappointed at having let the hosts off the hook as it looked like they would struggle to even reach the three-figure mark. The Indian pacers had reduced Sri Lanka to 47/6 at one stage before debutant Kushal Perera and Herath managed to steer their innings to a respectable total.
Stuart Binny, who missed out with the bat, showed his usefulness to the side by picking up the crucial wickets of Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal. The pick of the bowlers though was undoubtedly Ishant Sharma who picked up five wickets.
It started out horribly wrong for Ishant though with the tall pacer dishing three no-balls in his very first over and also had a catch dropped off his bowling by KL Rahul. Luckily for India, Ishant regained his composure quickly enough and troubled the Sri Lankan batsmen throughout the innings.
Earlier in the day, Cheteshwar Pujara became just the fourth Indian cricketer in history to carry his bat through the innings after he ran out of partners at the other end. He remained unbeaten on 145 as India’s first innings ended at 312 with Rangana Herath accounting for Sharma and Yadav in quick succession.
Sri Lanka got their reply off to a terrible start losing both their openers with just 11 runs on the board. A 29-run partnership for the third wicket helped the hosts stage a minor recovery but they found themselves in deep trouble after losing four wickets with an addition of just seven runs to the scoreboard.
Dhammika Prasad retired hurt to add to Sri Lanka’s woes, but Herath and Perera’s counter-attacking strategy paid dividends. It had shades of the Indian innings where Pujara and Mishra had put on 104 runs for the eighth wicket partnership to frustrate the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Perera showed no signs of nervousness as he made a quick-fire 55 of just 56 balls and along with Herath who missed out on his second career half century by a single run, added 79 for the seventh wicket. Tharindu Kaushal and Prasad, who made his way back out to the middle in spite of his injury troubles, also added valuable runs to take the total past the 200-run mark.
Buoyed by their late efforts, Nuwan Pradeep and Prasad came out all guns blazing to dismiss India’s top three cheaply. 15 wickets fell on day three to leave the Test firmly in the balance before rain stopped play yet again.