Colombo: The third day of the third and final cricket Test between India and Sri Lanka saw fortunes swing as both sides had their moments of celebration. At the end, India were probably marginally ahead as they managed to pick up two crucial Lankan wickets to leave the hosts precariously placed at 45/2 in their second innings with an overall lead of 34 runs. Virender Sehwag was the successful bowler as he picked up both the wickets to fall. When stumps were drawn, Kumar Sangakkara (12) and night-watchman Suraj Randiv (0) were holding fort for the Lankans.
Earlier, thanks to some gritty batting display by their lower order batsmen, India had scored 436 in their first innings. Virender Sehwag was the top-scorer with 109 while other significant contributors included VVS Laxman (56), Suresh Raina (62), Abhimanyu Mithun (46) and Amit Mishra (40). For Sri Lanka, Suraj Randiv was the most successful bowler with 4 scalps.
India began the day from their overnight total of 180/2 in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 425.
Shortly after the start of play, India suffered a huge blow as they lost the wicket of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who was caught behind the wicket by Prasanna Jayawardene off Lasith Malinga for 41.
However, Sehwag completed his 21st ton in Tests shortly after. Sehwag’s ton came off 90 balls and consisted of 18 shots past the boundary ropes.
But, India suffered another huge blow soon after as Sehwag was out to leave India in a spot of bother at 199/4. Sehwag, who was looking well set on 109, lost concentration and holed out to Welegedara off Randiv at mid-off.
After losing a couple of early wickets, Raina and Laxman put on a 50-run partnership to take India past the 250 mark.
India went into lunch at 282/4. The session produced 102 runs for the loss of two wickets.
Laxman completed his half-ton shortly after resumption of play in the post-lunch session as India went past the 300-run mark. The duo of Raina and Laxman also brought up its 100 partnership.
However, a few balls later, Laxman was sent back to the pavilion by Ajantha Mendis. Laxman, who scored 56, was caught at first-slip by Jayawardene.
Suresh Raina, too, completed his fifty soon after. Raina’s fifty came off 96 balls and consisted off 8 boundaries but the southpaw could not stay at the wicket for much longer as he had to take the long walk back to the pavilion after being caught by Sangakkara off Mendis for 64.
Skipper Dhoni could not produce his magic and was caught behind the wickets by Prasanna Jayawardene off Lasith Malinga for 15.
India went into the tea break at 378/7. During the session, India lost 3 wickets for 96 runs.
In the final session of the day, Mithun and Mishra took the Indian total past the 400-run mark. The duo displayed some gritty batting as they also completed their 50 partnership off just 90 balls.
Mithun’s resistance, however, came to an end after he was removed by Randiv for a hard fought 46. He was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at backward short-leg.
Shortly after, the visitors overtook the Sri Lankan total of 425 but could not go much ahead as they lost their ninth wicket in the form of Mishra, who departed while attempting to hit a big one but just managed to give a simple catch to Dilshan at deep mid-wicket for 40.
Ishant Sharma was the last wicket to fall as the Indian innings folded up for 436; a lead of just 11 runs. Ishant was caught by Parnavitana at short-leg for just 8.
Sri Lankan opening duo of Tharanga Parnavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan took the team off to a steady start as they successfully negotiated the opening burst from the Indian quick bowlers.
But, Sehwag came to India’s rescue as he provided the all important breakthrough by sending back Parnavitana. Parnavitana was caught behind the wickets by Dhoni for 16.
Sehwag spun a web around the Sri Lankan batsmen as he claimed his second wicket of the innings in the form of Dilshan. Dilshan was caught at short-leg by Murali Vijay for 13.
India will now attempt to capture the remaining eight Sri Lankan wickets as soon as possible on the fourth day as chasing even a low total on the crumbling pitch would not be an easy task.