R Ashwin was turning it square and Ravindra Jadeja was making the delivery rip through with bounce. Both Indian spinners were wreaking havoc on Sri Lanka batsmen and it seemed that the SSC pitch in Colombo will crumble. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 183 at the stroke of Lunch and India, after taking a 439-run lead, were set seal the game after asking the hosts to follow-on.
But surprisingly, Sri Lanka reached 209 for the loss of only two wickets at Stumps on Day 3 with Kusal Medis scoring a century and Dimuth Karunaratne remained unbeaten on 92. Suddenly, Ashwin’s deliveries were missing the rip while Jadeja could only vary his pace.
The ball went past the outside edge and there was awkward bounce but both Mendis and Karunaratne launched a bold counter-attack and took runs all-round the park. Neither spinner was spared of the sweeps and drives which not only disturbed their line but they were left searching for a better length as well.
Sri Lanka were set to have the two take them to stumps but Mendis fell five overs before close of play when Hardik Pandya, after bowling some wayward bowling, got one to comeback and Mendis got a inside edge on to his thigh pad which ballooned up to Wriddhiman Saha who dived in front to take a clean catch.
Nightwatchman and debutant Malinda Pushpakumara survived the final moments which looked more like how the morning where the ball spun of the pitch and Indian spinners dominating play.
Mendis scored 110 runs with 68 off them coming in boundaries as he made full use of one life he was offered. Shikhar Dhawan dropped him on 1 at mid-on, the ball hitting his wrist. The counter-attack was more about his confidence as he managed to score those runs in just 135 balls.
His partner Karunaratne took a different approach by playing shots that were under his control. He did not take risks apart from the odd reverse sweep. But that shot gave him more runs than giving India better chance to dismissing him. He was beaten many times by Indian bowlers but the opener continued to play at his supreme level of concentration.
This was in complete contrast of what Sri Lanka faced in the first innings. Resuming at 50 for 2, the hosts lost their first wicket when Dinesh Chandimal swept Ravindra Jadeja straight to square-leg.
Ashwin picked up his 26th five-wicket haul in Test cricket on the third morning of the Test and bowled out the hosts for a low score of 183 in their first innings. India asked Sri Lanka to follow-on as they took a lead of 439 runs.
Jadeja also took two wickets while Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav shared three wickets among themselves in the morning. Shami came as the fourth bowler in the day and he picked up two wickets in the first over itself.
While there were deliveries that bounced, spun and turned square, Niroshan Dickwella was unfazed by all this and the wickets falling at the other end. For a moment, Angelo Mathews and Dickwella were dealing in fours and sixes. The Sri Lanka wicket-keeper completed his half-century off just 44 balls.
But he was out trying the fancy shots. Shami kept it wicket-to-wicket and Dickwella went for a scoop. Shuffling across and completely exposing his stumps, he missed the ball and was bowled. This was on the first ball of the over. On the final, Herath received a fullish delivery that he had no clue about and was bowled.
Dickwella had a 53-run partnership with Mathews but that was not enough for Sri Lanka to save the follow-on. Mathews also took the aggressive approach. He clobbered Ashwin and Jadeja for a six each, picked up boundaries in his 26-run innings. He countered the extreme spin of the spinners with his shot but it was not be for long.
Ashwin got one to turn sharply which Mathews tried to deflect off his pads but that went to the left of Cheteshwar Pujara at leg-slip. He dived and grabbed a stunning one-handed catch inches off the ground.
Dhananjaya de Silva received a dream Jadeja delivery first up which left his in disbelief as he was bowled. This was his second wicket of the day and his 150th in Test cricket.
Once Ashwin picked up the wicket of Dilruwan Perera with a peach of a delivery that turned into him, the players waited to know if Nuwan Pradeep, who had his hamstring pulled while bowling, will come out to bat or not.
An injured Pradeep walked out to bat and after his 12-run stand with Malinda Pushpakumara, he became the final wicket to fall as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 183.