On paper, India look the favorites before the start of the final day’s play but the manner in which Dinesh Chandimal batted was an indicator that Sri Lanka do not want to take it lying down. After India removed opener Upul Tharanga and one-drop batsman Dimuth Karunaratne, both of whom got the identical 7-ball ducks, Chandimal scared Indian bowlers in his brief but productive stay. By the 4th over of Sri Lankan second innings, the hosts had lost two wickets and the score read a pitiable 2/2, which became 4/2 at the end of 5 overs. Then Chandimal showed his intent and banged three successive boundaries in the sixth over from Umesh Yadav. The Sri Lankan took two more runs in the next over from Ishant Sharma before falling to a reflex catch by Virat Kohli after Lokesh Rahul had dropped him in the third slip. In the Sri Lanka score of 21/3, Chandimal’s contribution was 18 off 17 balls. Now the fourth wicket partnership between Kaushal Silva and skipper Angelo Mathews is already worth 46 as Sri Lanka ended the fourth day at 67/3. Those runs have come at an impressive rate of 3.68 runs per over and if the pair continues in the same vein, Sri Lanka still have a chance. As for India, they have to keep their nerves in check and avoid negative bowling from seamers; since the pitch is not assisting spinners. Earlier after beginning the day at 21/3, India batted creditably to score 274 in their second innings and set a 386 run victory target for Sri Lanka. The successive events, however, showed that the brave Sri Lankans would try something enterprising and make the Indians sweat on the field.
India began the day at 21/3 with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma remaining un-separated until the score reached 64. At that point, Kohli made the same mistake that he did in the first innings. He opened an angled bat to a clearly wide delivery that he should have easily left alone. But the temptation cost India the loss of the fourth wicket. Rohit Sharma, however, found an able ally in Stuart Binny and the two of them eked out a useful 54-run partnership. Rohit fell as the fifth wicket at 118 but the lower middle order batting for India saved the day for them. There were useful contributions from Binny, who scored 49 off 62 balls, followed by Naman Ojha’s 35, Amit Mishra’s 39 and most importantly, 58 from Ravichandran Ashwin. India were finally bowled out for 274 and that have given them a 385-run lead over Sri Lanka.
When Upul Tharanga and Kaushal Silva came out to open the Sri Lankan second innings, they faced a victory target of 386. Their disastrous beginning, however, raised India’s hopes of their first overseas win in a long time. Tharanga was gobbled up in the first over, when Ishant Sharma found the edge of the left-hander’s bat and Naman Ojha made no mistake. In the fourth over, no.3 batsman Dimuth Karunaratne, another left-hander, edged Umesh Yadav for a catch to Ojha. Just when 2/2 showed the fragility of the Sri Lankan top order, Dinesh Chandimal took the charge. He plundered three successive boundaries off Umesh Yadav to send alarming signals. However, Chandimal fell to an edge that Ishant Sharma extracted from his bat. The Sri Lankan looked like surviving, when Lokesh Rahul dropped him in the third slip but the alert Virat Kohli pouched the spilling ball.
From that point onwards, Kaushal Silva and Angelo Mathews have taken the charge. There was no further damage during the day. Though Sri Lanka are still a far way off from the target at 67/3, hope still exits for them as long as Kaushal and Mathews continue. If India could strike early on the last day, Sri Lanka may not be able to survive even if they begin playing for a draw at some stage.
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