Jadeja leaves Lanka staring down the barrel
Twin strikes from Jaddu reduce visitors to 31/3 in chase of 410 with 1 day to go
After a spirited fight back by Lankan batsmen on Day 3, things returned to normal on Tuesday at Feroze Shah Kotla stadium as visitors Sri Lanka were left tottering at 31/3 chasing an improbable target of 410. The hosts, who have been dominating their neighbors throughout the season, have one full day to get the remaining seven wickets and seal the series 2-0.
The penultimate day of the third and final test begin with Sri Lanka still batting in their first innings and skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who played a superb knock the day before, continuing to frustrate India by first reaching 150 and eventually recording his career-best score of 164.
Ishant Sharma wrapped up the innings by dismissing Chandimal as the Lankans were all-out for 373, conceding a lead of 163-runs for the first innings.
Ishant (3/98) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3/90) were the leading wicket-takers for their team.
With two days remaining in the game and the pitch not showing any signs of wear and tear, it was obvious that India would look to score runs at a quick pace to enable themselves to declare with more than a day remaining for bowling out the visitors.
Openers Dhawan and Vijay were clearly following this script but Vijay fell cheaply at the personal score of 9 in the third over itself, edging a Lakmal delivery to the wicket-keeper.
Then, surprisingly, Ajinkya Rahane walked out to bat at No 3 which was clearly meant to give the Mumbai batsman a chance to regain his form in the last innings of the home season. With both the pressure of his recent failures and the need for quick runs weighing upon him, he went for a big slog against Dilruwan Perera, only to holed out at long-on.
Pujara joined Dhawan in the middle and the two kept a steady scoring rate. Dhawan had the license to play his natural game and he was going about this task in his own style, often charging down the track to seamers and hitting them through the off side.
Pujara too looked to be positive and tried to counter the defensive leg stump line from around the wicket being bowled by Dhananjaya de Silva through the use of his feet.
But then a delivery from de Silva went straight on to take the outside edge of Pujara's bat and gave Angelo Matthews an easy catch. Pujara scored 49 from 66 deliveries.
Dhawan, though, wasn't perturbed and kept charging, literally and figuratively, and stroked some beautiful boundaries, reaching his fifty in 83 balls. His innings of 67 off 91 balls contained cover drives, cuts, one six down the ground and a sweep also.
He was eventually out stumped to Lakshan Sandakan when attempting another big hit down the ground.
Captain Virat Kohli, who has been in the purplest of purple patches in this series continued to toy with the Lankan attack without difficulty as India went into tea break leading by 355 runs.
The third session started with everyone wondering when Kohli will declare. Initially, both he and Rohit Sharma batted without any visible urgency but soon Kohli start expanding his game.
While Kohli was blazing away and reached a score of 50 (in 55 bals) for the umpteenth time this last year, Sharma too joined in the fun as the two pressed on without much resistance.
Then Kohli was dismissed in the process of attempting a slog over midwicket with the fielder from long on taking the catch off Lahiru Gamage's bowling. Virat scored exactly 50.
Jadeja came out to bat at 6, probably get some batting practice ahead of the South Africa tour. But he didn't have much to do as India declared their innings as soon as Rohit got to his fifty (in 49 balls). India ended at 246/5 setting Sri Lanka a target of 410 with around three and a half sessions remaining.
Sri Lanka had to get through the day without any damage but Mohammed Shami had other ideas.
Opener Dimuth Karunaratne was on a king pair and was lucky not to achieve one as he was beaten by an away-swinger from Shami on the very first ball of the innings.
Ishant was a bit too short to cause any major difficulty for the openers. Shami, however, was bowling fast, getting the ball to move and also using the bouncer. He caught the edge of the bat twice but on both occasions the ball didn't carry.
Sadeera Samarawickrama was back to his usual position but things didn't turn out well for him as he received a brute of a bouncer from Shami, evading which he fell on his back. The next ball turned out to be very similar and on this occasion touched the glove and lobbed up for an easy catch to Rahane at gully.
Immediately after this over, the umpires informed Kohli that play couldn't continue unless he brings on the spinners. The spinning duo, especially Jadeja, were bowling too fast and the new ball wasn't turning for them.
Dhananjaya de Silva took the attack to Ashwin in the 15th over by slog sweeping him for six.
In the very next over, Dimuth played inside the line to a Jadeja delivery from over the wicket that didn't turn and edged it to Saha.
Lanka sent in Lakmal as the night-watchman but on the fourth ball of the same over, he tried to defend a delivery which rolled off his bat onto the stumps.
Sri Lanka had to now send in Angelo Matthews who saw off the last two deliveries after which the umpires decided to end the day's play.
So, the Lankans find themselves pushed into a corner once again by their nemesis. What's in their favour is the nature of the wicket as well as the form of their two best batsmen, Matthews and Chandimal. But the omens and everything else points towards another victory for India.
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