At stumps, Sri Lanka were 356/9 with Chandimal and Lakshan Sandakan (0 off 7 balls) at the crease, still trailing the hosts by 180 runs. Bad light ended play 5 overs in advance and the Indians will have to come back on Tuesday and pick the lone Lankan wicket before they can take strike again.
While the Indian bowlers gave it their all, the same cannot be said about the fielders who kept dropping catches despite the ground fielding being top notch. If skipper Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were to blame on the second day, it was the turn of Rohit Sharma and substitute Vijay Shankar to showcase butter-fingers on the third days. Wriddhiman Saha too missed a tough chance off Mathews, but he came up with a screamer to dismiss Sadeera Samarawickrama off Ishant Sharma just when he looked to be taking the game away from the Indians with Chandimal for company.
Roshen Silva (0) and Niroshan Dickwella (0) did not help the team’s cause as Ashwin looked like he was suddenly bowling unplayable deliveries. It finally took Chandimal to ensure that the Lankans avoided the follow-on as he protected Lahiru Gamage as much as he could after Suranga Lakmal (5) was dismissed by Shami, again caught well by Saha behind the wicket.
Earlier, the first two sessions saw the Lankans dominate with Mathews and Chandimal playing out the first session without giving anything away to the Indian bowlers. Not to forget that both Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma bowled their hearts out and were on the mark from the word go. In fact, even R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja looked good if not lethal, but the Lankans showed a sense of application that was missing on the first two Test matches.
While Mathews grinded it out, Chandimal mixed caution with aggression and ensured that he kept frustrating the bowlers with timely boundaries. But the best part was the determination shown by Mathews although he was time and again being bothered by the short of a goodlength delivery from Shami and Ishant. Mathews doesn’t have the best of techniques, but then, he made up for it with determination and discipline as he refused to let go.
In the end, it needed a life on 98 — dropped by Rohit Sharma in second slip — for Mathews to celebrate a Test century that came after 37 innings and two years. But it was a deserved one as the whole of the dressing room applauded the experienced campaigner. It was disappointing that he could only add another 11 runs before Ashwin cleaned him with one that held its line after pitching and Saha completed a good catch behind the wicket.
Chandimal though had to wait for his 10th Test century till the post-tea session as he crafted a quality partnership with Sadeera after Mathews’ dismissal. Sadeera though looked keen to only score in boundaries even as Chandimal waited to put away the bad balls and showed respect to the good ones. Chandimal became the fastest Sri Lankan to reach 10 Test tons — 80 innings. He surpassed Thilan Samaraweera who had scored the same in 82 innings back in 2009.
Angelo MathewsDelhi TestDinesh Chandimalind vs sl 2017India Sri Lankaindia sri lanka 3rd testIndia Sri Lanka Third Testthird Test
First Published: December 4, 2017, 4:33 PM IST