New Delhi: India`s Rashid Khan and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka were the joint leaders after they were left stranded on the seventh and eighth hole, respectively as an inclement weather suspended the third day`s play in the USD 300,000 SAIL-SBI Open here on Friday.
Rashid, who led by four overnight, dropped a bogey at the fifth hole to slip, but Perera fired three birdies on the first, second and sixth holes to turn in three-under and 13-under for the tournament when officials abandoned play at the Delhi Golf Club due to heavy rain.
Siddikur Rahman was two-under after seven holes to stay just one stroke behind the leaders, while two-time defending champion Anirban Lahiri, too, kept his hopes alive after blasting four birdies in eight holes to be four-under.
Lahiri, however, is poised to bogey the ninth hole after he missed a short par putt before the siren went off. He will fall two strokes off the pace.
Heavens opened up in the afternoon leaving the golfers scurrying for cover and play was suspended at 1.22pm before officials eventually called off the round at 3pm. Rashid will have to play 28 holes tomorrow but the 23-year-old is not complaining.
"I think the rain came at the right time. I was one over and the day wasn`t going the way I wanted to. A lot of holes to play tomorrow. I`m hoping for a good day," Rashid, who won the Rolex ranking last year, said.
"It`s going to be a big day tomorrow. I`ll have 28 holes to play. We`ll see what happens. Today, I started really bad and didn`t make any birdies. I will need to start with a birdie in the morning, need a good round going," he added.
Lahiri was flawless today as he picked up strokes on the first, third, fifth and eighth holes and the Bangalore golfer hoped to turn the heat on Rashid and Perera tomorrow.
"I don`t think it`ll be a big deal for Rashid and Mithun. Rashid has won prolifically in India and this is his home course. I don`t think he`ll be nervous," said Lahiri.
"As for Mithun, everything he touches now seems to turn to gold. He`s won the last three events in India. He`s on a juggernaut now. The challenge will be on Siddikur and I to pressure them. If we can do that, it will be interesting."
With three wins in last three weeks, Perera is in rampaging form and the Sri Lankan hoped to keep doing the good job and clinch his maiden Asian Tour title.
"I`m waiting to win a title on the Asian Tour. Hopefully, it will be tomorrow. It`s exciting but the key is to keep under par. I`ve got to play good again. Hopefully, I can have a good start," said the 27-year-old, who will have to play 27 holes tomorrow.
"I`ve just got to play good to win it. Everyone is playing well. I had a good start and on every hole, I hit driver as my tee shots were so good. Made a few birdies with some good iron shots but missed a few too.
"It will be important to stay on the fairways. If I can do that, I can do something tomorrow," added Perera.
Siddikur, who won the Hero Indian Open in November last year, is also confident of his game.
"It`s going to be a long day for all the players. You have to be fit and be prepared for 28 holes. I`m looking forward to it. I`m feeling confident and I hope to enjoy the day. I`ve not seen this sort of thunderstorms in India for a long time, it is like in Malaysia and Dhaka," said Siddikur.