New Delhi: Sri Lanka shut the door on Sunday’s pollution and smog-related controversies with some lionhearted batting, closing in steadily on India’s mammoth 536/6 declared, till a late spill of wickets spoilt things somewhat for them at the Kotla here on Sunday. At close, they were 356/9, having most importantly seen off the follow-on threat.
Centuries by the resolute Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal held the Indians at bay for two-thirds of the day but the final session saw the tide turn decisively in this game. Ashwin (3/90) prised the door open with the wicket of Mathews, and it turned into something of a procession thereafter as the Kotla’s third session jinx struck with a vengeance after taking a break on Saturday.
Till then, the visitors had ridden a pugnacious 111 from Mathews and his 181-run third wicket partnership with Chandimal (147 batting, 341b, 18x4, 1x6) towards safety. But once Ashwin started to find bite off the track, it turned into a different ball game.
For close to two full sessions, the closest the home side came to a wicket was when Mathews was put down on 98 by Rohit Sharma at second slip off a rare Ishant Sharma rocket. Other than that, and one more opportunity when a quicker Ravindra Jadeja delivery snaked past Chandimal’s bat and through Wriddhiman Saha’s pads in the morning session, there was very little to celebrate for Virat Kohli’s side.
Having come together on Sunday evening at 75/3 in the 19th over, Mathews (111, 181b, 14x4, 2x6) and Chandimal held on till the 98th over before the former was dismissed. Ashwin, who had sent down just nine overs till then, got the ball to straighten and find a faint edge on its way into Saha’s gloves.
The wicketkeeper did well to get big on the ball for a clean take to break the partnership that spanned 319 minutes and consumed 477 deliveries. More importantly, it was the first time in a long while that Sri Lanka had showed some spine against Kohli’s rampant team, starting with the home series earlier in the year.
Mathews, who scored his eighth Test hundred, and Chandimal, who got his 10th, started slowly but lost no opportunities to put runs on the scoreboard. The former Lanka skipper, who resumed on 57 played sedately, adding just six further boundaries to is overnight tally of eight. By lunch, the two had scored just 61 runs and looked untroubled, for the most part.
Even the new ball, taken in the 81st over at 208/3 failed to bring any joy for the hosts, the lack of life in the track nullifying whatever Mohammad Shami and Ishant put into their deliveries.
India (1st innings): 536/7 decl.
Sri Lanka (1st innings): D. Karunaratne c Saha b Shami 0, D. Perera lbw b Jadeja 42, D. de Silva lbw b I. Sharma 1, A. Mathews c Saha b Ashwin 111, D. Chandimal (batting) 147, S. Samarawickrama c Saha b I. Sharma 33, R. Silva c Dhawan b Ashwin 0, N. Dickwella b Ashwin 0, S. Lakmal c Saha b Shami 5, L. Gamage lbw b Jadeja 1, L. Sandakan (batting) 0. Extras (b4, lb5, nb2, p5) 16. Total (for nine wickets in 130 overs) 356.
FoW: 1-0, 2-14, 3-75, 4-256, 5-317, 6-318, 7-322, 8-331, 9-343.
Bowling: Shami 24-6-74-2, Sharma 27-6-93-2, Jadeja 44-13-85-2, Ashwin 30-8-90-3.