From what has been happening in the first Test at Galle, Indian team and fans must have hoped that Day 3 would give them the much needed away victory. Those expectations were not met, thanks mainly to Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal as he scored an unbeaten 162 and took his team to an impressive total of 367.
Spinners bring down the middle order
India’s plan was to keep Sri Lanka constantly under pressure by regular wickets and not letting them recuperate. Varun Aaron opened the bowling on Day 3 and sent night watchman Dhammika Prasad back on his very first delivery and reduced the opponents to 5/3. Then came skipper Angelo Mathews to form with Kumar Sangakkara a partnership which spanned over 20.4 overs and 87 runs for the 4th wicket. Thanks to the spinners, India was able to dodge what was beginning to look like a dangerous collaboration. Ajinkya Rahane took a brilliant one-hand catch off a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery to end Sangakkara’s innings. Amit Mishra then resumed his spell in the 26th over and Lokesh Rahul caught captain Mathews at Silly Point. This meant that the hosts were to finish at 108/5 at lunch.
Career best knock of Chandimal
When Dinesh Chandimal came to crease, Sri Lanka was trailing by 100 runs and an over later, with the dismissal of Mathews, half of their batsmen were back in pavilion. His team was in dire need of a steady innings, and he took the task in his own hands. Along with Lahiru Thirimanne (44), he began constructing a partnership that brought Sri Lanka back in the game. The 125-run stand for the 6th wicket lasted for 148 balls and was broken by Ashwin after he got Thirimanne’s wicket. Jehan Mubarak was the next batsman and he started off with a six against Mishra. Chandimal had a fruitful partnership with Mubarak and it was between the two match-saving partnerships that Chandimal completed his 4th Test hundred and eventually scored a career best 162*. His 19 fours and 4 sixes worked as the icing on the cake. By the time of Tea, Sri Lanka was comfortable at 263/6, losing only one wicket against three in the first session.
Chandimal against Rahane’s Catches
After dismissing Thirimanne, India was then looking at another big partnership building up between Chandimal and Jehan Mubarak. The 82-run stand for the 7th wicket was interrupted just in the nick of the time by comeback man Harbhajan Singh as Jehan Mubarak (49) was nearing his half-century. After Mubarak’s wicket, the Sri Lankan innings was pretty much bits and pieces, barring the 9th wicket partnership of 41 runs that ended when Ishant Sharma sent Tharindu Kaushal back. Dinesh Chandimal single-handedly continued to increase Sri Lanka’s lead. While India could not succeed in stopping him, Ajinkya Rahane took some great catches off all the three spinners’ deliveries and contributed in keeping the non-striker end under pressure. Out of the seven catches in the innings, Rahane’s fielding aided in getting five Sri Lankan wickets. He has taken total eight catches in this Test. With this, he has now become the fielder with most number of catches in a Test match, surpassing the likes of Greg Chappell, Stephen Fleming and Matthew Hayden, with seven catches each.
India’s early hiccup and Day 4 anticipations
Chasing a gettable total, opener L. Rahul was dismissed by Rangana Herath in the 5th over. This led India to 13/1 and Ishant Sharma was sent to the middle to play the remaining overs.
Even though India’s hopes of restricting the hosts before a significant total were crushed by Chandimal’s game-changing knock, India has little to worry about. With a modest target of 176 and two whole days still in hand, all that is needed is a couple of substantial partnerships. Their batting line-up has some big names and it should be an easy win tomorrow. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, would try to get some wickets and make the chase as bumpy as possible for the remaining 153 runs.
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 183
India 1st innings: 375
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 367 (D. Chandimal 162*, J. Mubarak 49, R. Ashwin 4/114, A. Mishra 3/61)
India 2nd innings: 23/1 (S. Dhawan 13*, I. Sharma 5*, R. Herath 1/13)