For a change, play on Day 3 of the 1st test between India and Sri Lanka began on the stipulated time. India must have come out today looking to consolidate and posting a respectable total. However, India’s desire to shift the momentum in its favor took a severe blow early on. Cheteshwar Pujara was bowled by a sharp in-swinger from Gamage which escaped from the gap between Pujara’s bat and pad.
There were some useful contributions down the order by Jadeja (22), Shami (24) and Bhuvi (13) but India could never really get going and were bundled up for 172. Saha remained unbeaten at 29. Though these scores may seem very big, but in the context of the match they may prove to be match-winning (or saving). Especially, on day 5 when even a target of 150 may seem daunting.
India’s new ball attack was shared between Shami and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. Taking the green pitch and the overcast conditions into consideration, India’s target was to restrict Sri Lanka to as low as possible. But, the Lankans got off to a steady start.
At 24-0, India seemed to have tasted first blood. An in-swinger from Shami wrapped Karunarante on the pads. The Umpire ruled him out but he opted for DRS and the decision was overturned. As per the ball tracker, the ball was missing the wickets, owing to the bounce of Eden Gardens.
Karunaratne, however, did not succeed in troubling India too much as he got out shouldering arms to Bhuvaneshwar. This time as he was not offering a short and so, even though he opted for DRS, the decision remained.
In the 7th over, Bhuvi struck again, this time with an out-swinger. The Lankan opener Sadeera Samarawickrama threatened to take the match away from India. He was scoring at a strike rate of over 100 but he played with hard hands at a ball which was away from his body and hence, paid the price.
In came, Angelo Mathews who was returning after an injury. He is the backbone of the Lankan batting order. He had been batting lower down the order (at 5 and 6) for a long time. Finally, he was back where he belonged i.e. no 4.
At 70-2, Dhawan dropped a simple catch off the bowling of Umesh Yadav at first slip. Thirimanne who was then on 27, went on to score a half-century. At 133-2, Sri Lanka seemed to be in the driver’s seat with a partnership of 99 runs between Mathews and Thirimanne.
Just when the match seemed to start slipping from India’s grasp, it was pulled back a little by Umesh Yadav’s double blows. First to depart was Thirimane(51) who was caught at second slip by Virat Kohli who took a brilliant low catch. The way he threw the ball on the ground after completing the catch was a clear sign of his frustration. Soon, Angelo Matthews followed suit, with an on-the-rise shot that went straight into the hands of KL Rahul.
Captain, Dinesh Chandimal (13) was then joined by wicket-keeper, Niroshan Dickwella (14). At 165-4, the match was skewed in Sri Lanka’s favour when bad light played spoilsport once again and play had to be called off.
Sri Lanka trail by 7 runs at the end of day 3. Indian bowlers need to come up with something special so that they don’t allow a lead over 50 on day 4. At present, the match hangs at an interesting stage as all the three results are possible.