Shikhar Dhawan (67) and Cheteshwar Pujara (49) made handy contributions as India extended their lead past 350 in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Tuesday (December 5).
Virat Kohli (25) and Rohit Sharma (28) were in the midst of useful knocks too as India went into tea on the fourth day on 192 for 4, leading by 355 after bowling out Sri Lanka for 373.
The day was panning out exactly as India would have hoped; they took the last remaining Sri Lankan wicket early in the day and then their batsmen took over, courtesy partnerships between Dhawan and Pujara (77) followed by Kohli and Rohit (48*).
Once India bowled Sri Lanka out, M Vijay got India going with two boundaries in the first over off Suranga Lakmal, just like he had done in the first innings. However, the bowler had his revenge in the very next over when Vijay drove away from his body and edged behind. Lakmal seemed in good rhythm, but his spell was cut short when he began vomiting on the field and was forced off before returning later in the session.
India gave the out of form Ajinkya Rahane a promotion to No. 3, but the move backfired as he struggled throughout for a 37-ball 10. He survived two leg before appeals on reviews and was generally tentative, struggling to rotate strike on a slow pitch against disciplined bowling.
With Dhawan too taking a more cautious approach, the frustration began to show on Rahane. He finally succumbed to the pressure, stepping out and lofting Dilruwan Perera straight to long-on in an attempt to attack his way into form.
Pujara then showed how it’s done, scoring fluently and helping India pick up pace in the process. He did it with terrific footwork against the spinners, often charging down and converting deliveries into full tosses or half-volleys. Pujara’s progress also forced Sri Lanka to opt for a desperate review that went in vain.
Against the run of play, Pujara played for non-existent turn and edged a straight ball from Dhananjaya de Silva to slip on 49. But by then, India’s lead had crossed 270 and the positive approach rubbed off on Dhawan. Once he went past his half-century, he opened up by taking Lakshan Sandakan for a straight six before being stumped while going for another.
Rohit and Kohli then took over, scoring briskly to extend India’s dominance going into the break.
Earlier, Dinesh Chandimal got his highest Test score in a marathon 361-ball 164 to eat into India’s total. The Sri Lankan skipper got good support from Lakshan Sandakan, the No. 11 who hung in for 20 balls despite not scoring a run, before being the last man dismissed for a Test-best 164. He finally fell slashing Ishant Sharma to third man to hand the pacer his third wicket of the innings.