Indian bowling was fully tested in the first session of the third day. They couldn’t find a wicket and looked helpless against the determined Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews. Sri Lanka began the day in trying to prevent India gaining any further advantage after they posted 393 runs and took three wickets for 140 at the end of the second day. Mathews had a clear intent and he encouraged the less-confident Lahiru Thirimanne to play his natural game. Thirimanne defended well and scored only off the loose balls. Mathews looked for singles even when he defended. By lunch, Sri Lanka added 84 runs without losing any wicket and gained an upper hand. No praise was bigger for Mathews, who really led from the front. India did their best as the bowlers tested the patience of Sri Lankan batsmen, who kept picking up singles. Mathews went on to record his sixth century in test cricket and Thirimanne got his fifty. The bowling rewards came only after Thirimanne departed and India bounced back by taking the last 7 wickets for just 65 runs as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 306 runs. In the second innings, India lost Lokesh Rahul early but ended the day with 70/1. With 9 wickets remaining and an overall lead of 157 runs, it is time India showed their true strength to win the second test after the colossal result at Galle.
When Sri Lanka resumed their innings from the overnight score of 140/3, Indian captain Virat Kohli must have desired an early breakthrough to put the opposition in a spot of bother. But Kohli was denied any such luxury with Mathews around. Lahiru Thirimanne was a suspect batsman for Sri Lanka before the start of the test-series, but in the company of his skipper, he blossomed into playing with restraint. He scored only when the deliveries were loose. There were no maiden overs until the fag end of the lunch session as Sri Lanka added 84 runs. Mathews and Thirimanne avoided all risky shots in the 28 overs that India bowled. Kohli took the new ball after 80 overs and gave it to Ashwin despite Umesh Yadav having shown the swing at the start of the Sri Lankan innings. After adding 127 runs for the fourth wicket, Thirimanne fell to a questionable caught behind off Ishant Sharma. That wicket opened the floodgates as the Galle test hero Dinesh Chandimal was also claimed by Sharma six over later. Mathews departed next with the well-deserved and timely 102 off 167 balls. Amit Mishra and R Ashwin wiped off the Sri Lankan tail in next to no time as their innings ended at 306 after 108 overs.
With the first innings lead of 87, Indian openers came back for their second essay. But they had a disastrous start as Dhammika Prasad bowled first-innings’ centurion Lokesh Rahul in the first over. Rahul shaped to drive in front but the seaming delivery crashed on his stumps after taking a thin edge. However, Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane ensured that India would not lose any more wickets before stumps were drawn on the third day. With two days left in the test match, India must consolidate on their 157 run lead with positive batting and then take the remaining 10 Sri Lankan wickets.
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