Colombo: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has backed in-form Ravichandran Ashwin and leg-spinner Amit Mishra to play key roles in spinning India to a series- levelling win against Sri Lanka on the final day of the second Test here tomorrow.
After setting Sri Lanka a victory target of 413 post a patient 126 from Ajinkya Rahane, India put the hosts in trouble at 72 for two at stumps on Day 4 on Sunday. Gavaskar believes that India have the bowlers to get the remaining eight wickets at P Sara Oval.
"If the pitch is playing well. It is getting turn, we have seen that with Ashwin, with Mishra. I think what they really need to do is to put the pressure from one end and maybe look to block the runs from the other end. Ashwin's got to win us the match," Gavaskar told NDTV.
"And Mishra, if he bowls as well as he did to the tail in the first innings, can be a handful. Because leg-spinners and fast bowlers to the tail-enders are sure fire wicket-takers. If Mishra does bowl well to the tail then India should level the series tomorrow," he added.
Win or loss, the Test match will always be remembered for being Kumar Sangakkara's swansong and Gavaskar was all praise for the legendary cricketer.
"He is right up there. He has performed in every country, every condition, all kinds of opposition and situation. He has been the go to man for Sri Lanka. He has been a consistent player. Five-six years have been extremely consistent for him. The double hundreds have been coming pretty easily. One of the all-time greats of the game," the legendary batsman said.
Starting the day on 70 for one, India rode on a 140-run second wicket partnership between Rahane and Murali Vijay (82) to declare their second innings on 325 for eight an hour after tea. Gavaskar said the declaration was perfectly timed.
"I think the declaration came at the right time. What you do not want is a situation that you end up saying on Day 5 that oh! I could have declared a few overs earlier," he said.
"They (Lanka) might be able to save the match, but I don't think that they will be able to score the 400 plus runs they need to win the match," he added.
The day belonged to Rahane, who struck his fourth Test century, and Gavaskar said the 27-year-old is never given his due by the media.
"I think the media in our part of the world is obsessed by one single person and they tend to overlook everybody else. It's been happening for quite a while now. So guys like Ajinkya Rahane, who contribute day in and day out will never get the kind of kudos that somebody else might get. We cricketers, have always rated him highly. Like Sangakkara he is an all-condition player," he said.