Sri Lanka stumble after centuries by Mathews, Chandimal
3rd Test: India vs Sri Lanka at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, Dec 02 - 06, 2017, Cricket highlights
After their bowlers failed to make an impact on a batting friendly track, the onus was on the Sri Lankan batsmen to step up to the plate and get their team close to India’s total. Well, most of the batsmen failed, but not the captain and the former captain. It was only because of the twin centuries and a fabulous partnership of 181 runs between Dinesh Chandimal (147*) and Angelo Mathews (111) that Sri Lanka were able to score more than 300 runs for the loss of 4 wickets. However, they will be disappointed with how the day ended for them as they lost 5 wickets for a mere 26 runs in the final session and were reduced to 356 for 9. They still trail by 180 runs and now have only 1 wicket left in their hands.
The first session well and truly belonged to Sri Lanka as Mathews and Chandimal displayed terrific resilience with the bat and stretched their partnership past the 100-run mark. They were pampered by short-pitch bowling from the Indian seamers, but they stood their ground firm and also withstood the blow on their bodies. There were some plays and misses, particularly from Mathews, but he survived those and found himself 10 runs short of a hundred going into the Lunch break. Chandimal also batted really well and scored his third consecutive half-century.
The Indian spinners started off pretty well in the second session as they kept the run-flow in check, but were unable to break the partnership. Catches were dropped off Shami and Ishant’s bowling yesterday and today was no different. On this occasion, Rohit Sharma was the culprit as he dropped a dolly at second slip on the bowling of Ishant. Once again, it was Mathews, who was given the life – this time on 98. He was not going to let go this opportunity and two balls later, flicked a boundary on the leg-side to get to his hundred. It was after two years that he had scored a century and no doubt, he was jubilated.
Like the first session, the first hour after the break also went wicketless for India. The pair batted on and on and took their team’s score past the 250-run mark. The Indian bowlers were, for the most part, accurate in the morning, but as the partnership grew bigger and stronger, they erred in their line and lengths and offered too many hit-me deliveries to the pair. They also complained about the ball, which was eventually changed after they pleaded to the umpire at least three times. The changed ball did the trick for India as Ashwin was able to get Mathews caught behind for 111.
Even though the 181-run partnership was broken, India had to toil hard to get the second breakthrough of the day as the new batsman, in Sadeera Samarawickrama, and Chandimal built another partnership of 61 runs for the fifth wicket. The Sri Lankan captain, in the process, also reached his 10th Test century. It was certainly one of his best knocks and he thoroughly deserved the hundred. He was tried and tested by the Indian bowlers, he suffered health issues due to the Delhi pollution; but amidst all the difficulties, he battled his way out and reached the milestone.
At 317 for 4, Sri Lanka were in a good position and had a great chance of posting a total close to 450. But a collapse in the final session spoilt all their hopes of even getting 400 runs on the board. Once the partnership between Samarawickrama and Chandimal was broken by Ishant, all hell broke loose for the visitors. Next up was Ashwin, who picked up with two wickets in two overs to send Roshen Silva and Niroshan Dickwella back in the pavilion. Mohammad Shami, who replaced Ishant, also got a breakthrough straightaway as he dismissed Lakmal for 5. To make things worse for Sri Lanka, Jadeja also picked up a wicket in his comeback over, which resulted in Sri Lanka sliding to 343 for 9.
The only positive thing for Sri Lanka in that session was that their captain is still out there, unbeaten on 147. With only one wicket left, Chandimal would try to score as many runs as possible tomorrow morning to reduce the deficit. On the other hand, India will try to pick up the wicket as soon as possible and get a sizeable lead.