Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal kept Sri Lanka’s hopes alive as they battled it out during an eventful morning’s play headlined by controversial no-ball decisions in the third and final Test against India at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Wednesday (December 6).
The pair took Sri Lanka to lunch at 119 for 4 in chase of 410, having added 84 for the fifth wicket. De Silva was on 72 while Chandimal remained unbeaten on 27, their steady stand giving Sri Lanka a decent chance of surviving two more sessions to save the game.
The session also saw a couple of line-calls making headlines, with Angelo Mathews falling to a no-ball that went unspotted and Chandimal later surviving after being bowled by what the third umpire deemed a marginal no-ball. Ravindra Jadeja, who picked up three wickets, was the bowler on both occasions.
Sri Lanka started the day with their backs against the wall at 31 for 3. Much depended on Mathews, but the first-innings centurion lasted just six overs.
Mathews had been extremely lucky to be dropped thrice in the first innings, but luck evaded him this time. Jadeja induced the edge, and Ajinkya Rahane pounced on a sharp catch at first slip to send Mathews back for just one.
The lack of fortune was not just because the catch was taken, but also because Jadeja had overstepped and Joel Wilson, the umpire, didn’t spot it.
Jadeja was in the midst of a typically tight spell and returned figures of 9-6-5-3 at one stage. The target was miles away and Sri Lanka could have easily made the mistake of going into their shells, but de Silva ensured that wouldn’t happen.
He weathered the initial storm but also knew when to switch gears. When Ishant Sharma tried bouncing him out, de Silva responded by pulling the pacer for two boundaries. He also stepped down to drive Jadeja down the ground and later lofted R Ashwin over mid-on to go past his half-century. The nimble footwork was also complemented by cheeky paddles and confident sweeps.
It helped that de Silva had his captain and another first-innings centurion in Chandimal at the other end for guidance. The duo never got bogged down and kept the scoreboard ticking with quick singles, also stealing overthrows at the slightest opportunity.
There weren’t too many demons on the pitch but the Sri Lankans showed good application and went about their task in a smart manner.
Play was meandering on towards lunch when a late twist induced plenty of drama, with Chandimal bowled off a no-ball on 24 with less than ten minutes left for lunch.
Jadeja produced a stunning delivery that went past the outside edge to hit off-stump, but this time, Wilson decided to check the legality of the delivery. Anil Chaudhary, the third umpire, ruled a very marginal call in the favour of the batsman, much to the dismay of the Indian camp.