India picks quick wickets to leave Sri Lanka in trouble

Sri Lanka, presented a target of 410 runs, will resume at 31 for three.

Jadeja celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lankan batsman Dimuth Karunarathna with teammate Cheteshwar Pujara on Tuesday.   -  AFP

India’s dominance continued as Sri Lanka found itself cornered at the end of the fourth day’s day play which witnessed the floodlights being used from the first ball. An intriguing day of cricket awaits the fans at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday when Sri Lanka, presented a target of 410 runs, resumes at 31 for three.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

 

Haze has been a constant part of this Test. So has been India’s performance, clear and assertive, on a pitch that demands discipline and application. Sri Lanka gave an indication on the third day through Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews but the challenge multiplied once India decided to make a match of it by scoring briskly and declaring the second innings.

READ: Dhawan : 'There is pollution but we should do our duty'

With seven wickets in hand, Sri Lanka would be hard-pressed to save the game on a pitch which is showing signs of wear and tear. The two-wicket strike by Ravindra Jadeja should cause anxiety to the Sri Lankan batting line-up since the surface suits him the most. The ball with which he cleaned up Suranga Lakmal showed the bowler in high spirits.

A few masked Sri Lankans may have revived the pollution debate in certain quarters with seamer Suranga Lakmal vomiting on the field to drive home the point forcefully. Later, Indian fast bowler Mohammad Shami, having confessed to suffering from chest infection before the match, also threw up.

READ: Shami: 'Pollution not that bad'

But the Indians were not perturbed. They had a task at hand and went about it professionally, never letting the guard down and making the opposition understand the limitations it had.

For Sri Lanka, it was hard to shackle the strong Indian batting line-up and it showed in the ease with which the runs were garnered.

Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma provided the pace the innings needed in a second innings total of 246 for five declared.

The run graph shows the brisk rate at which India scored in its second innings against Sri Lanka.

 

A lead of 163 runs gave India the cushion and the power to plan the final assault. M. Vijay, centurion in the first innings, fell cheaply but India had the wherewithal to dictate. Once again, Ajinkya Rahane, bogged by poor form, was a victim of self-doubt. His attempted aggression failed to clear the fielder at long on.

For the batsmen, it was obviously a platform to assess their ability to shift gear at the crease. The bad ball had to be put away because the idea was to give the bowlers a decent chance – time and target – to strangle Sri Lanka.

Read: Kohli didn't need a mask, points out Bharat Arun

Dhawan is always game because he is not the one to make a compromise with his natural style. He loves to attack the ball and his purposeful essay confirmed his form and intent.

Pujara decided to play his shots. And play them well. Often unfairly criticised for an average strike rate in the longer format of the game, Pujara, a delight for the purist, excelled in forcing the pace, played some rousing strokes, before edging to slip, a tame climax to an innings which promised much more.

Mohammed Shami Sadeera Samarawickrama

Mohammed Shami dismissed opener Sadeera Samarawickrama in Sri Lanka's chase.   -  Sandeep Saxena

 

Kohli’s advent to the crease stepped up the scoring rate and added to the woes of Sri Lanka. The contest became intense as India explored scoring avenues and Lanka looked to defend without adopting negative tactics at any point. Half-centuries by Dhawan, Kohli and Rohit ensured India was on the right track and the declaration gave the bowlers enough time to put the Sri Lankans under pressure.

Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma warmed up for the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka by letting the ball rip. They were quick through the air and Shami especially enjoyed putting the batsmen on the back foot and hastening their front foot defence.

Shami presented a delightful sight for Kohli when he rattled Sadeera Samarawickrama, the batsman evading the bouncer, bent backwards and overbalanced. Next ball he ducked but faintly gloved the ball. It was a moment to frame for the Indian team management since the mode of dismissal could be a regular feature when competing in South Africa.

Sri Lanka would do well to watch out for more such missiles when the teams return for the final day on Wednesday.

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