India 7 wickets away from victory
3rd Test: India vs Sri Lanka at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, Dec 02 - 06, 2017, Cricket highlights
India were one wicket away from bowling Sri Lanka out in the first innings and it didn’t take them much time to pick up that wicket as Ishant Sharma got rid of Chandimal, not before the Sri Lankan captain raised up his highest score (164) in Test cricket. It was a terrific comeback from the Indian bowlers to bowl Sri Lanka out for 373, considering they were 317 for 4 at one stage. This also meant that the hosts had secured a massive lead of 163 runs. Their only aim was to now score quick runs and set Sri Lanka a challenging target.
Their start was not so good as Murali Vijay played an uncharacteristic shot to get himself out. Ajinkya Rahane, who was promoted up the order, also couldn’t make much of his last opportunity before the South African tour and was out slogging for just 10 runs. As a result, India found themselves two down for 29 runs on the board.
After the fall of early wickets, Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara steadied the ship by stitching a 77-run partnership. While we normally associate aggression with Dhawan and defence with Pujara, this time around, the two swapped the roles as Pujara was the aggressor between the two. He used his feet really well against the spinners and played some superb shots to get himself going. While Dhawan was scoring at a strike-rate close to 50, Pujara dealt in boundaries and scored his runs at almost 80.
In the 77-run partnership, 49 came off Pujara’s bat, before he was dismissed by Dhananjaya de Silva. After the dismissal of his partner, Dhawan, who was well set, took the responsibility on his shoulders and played his natural and aggressive game. 37 runs came off the next 4 overs as Dhawan shifted the gears and took the attack to the Sri Lankan bowlers. He brought up his half-century and also surpassed the 2000-run landmark with a thunderous six on the bowling of Sandakan. The chinaman bowler, however, got his revenge in the very next over as he foxed the left-hander with a beautifully flighted delivery.
The wicket of Dhawan brought no respite to the Sri Lankan bowlers, as Rohit and Virat continued to be aggressive and scored the runs at almost 7 RPO. At the time of Tea, India’s lead was already past 350 runs and it was only a matter of time before they declared their innings.
They batted for just 9 more overs after the break, scored their respective fifties in that time frame, and declared the innings when the lead crossed the 400-run mark. This meant that the target for Sri Lanka was a humongous 410. Chasing it down was probably out of question. For them, it was a matter of survival.
Just like the first innings, Mohammad Shami provided India with a terrific start as he got rid of Sadeera Samarawickrama with an unplayable bouncer.
Unfortunately for India, the seamers couldn’t continue due to the fading light and spinners were deployed from both the ends. Both Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva found facing the spinners much more comfortable than the fast bowlers as they cautiously played out 9 overs.
Then came the over from Jadeja, who gave a double blow to Sri Lanka by getting rid of Karunaratne and also the night watchman Suranga Lakmal. As a result, the visitors slumped to 31 for 3 at Stumps on Day 4.