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Chandimal, Mathews tons keep Sri Lanka afloat

Chandimal, Mathews tons keep Sri Lanka afloat

Chandimal, Mathews tons keep Sri Lanka afloat

Skipper and his predecessor put on 181 before India strikes in the final session through Ashwin.

Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal

Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews fought hard with centuries but R Ashwin ensured India remained dominant in the third Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Monday (December 4).

Sri Lanka ended an intriguing third day on 356 for 9, trailing by 180 runs after India had declared on 536 for 7 on the second day. Chandimal was still battling on a marathon, 341-ball 147 and had Lakshan Sandakan, the No. 11, for company.

Mathews, who made 111, and Chandimal battled for nearly two sessions in the day for their 181-run stand before Ashwin (3 for 90) struck three crucial blows in the second half of the day. 

It was a much-improved performance from Sri Lanka, but things could have been different had India held on to its chances. Mathews was dropped on six by Virat Kohli at second slip on the second day and his incredible fortune extended into the third day. The former captain was dropped twice more - by Rohit Sharma, again at second slip when on 98, and then by Vijay Shankar, the substitute fielder, on 104. He had plenty more luck, particularly in the nervous 90s when edges evaded the stumps and the fielders. 

In all, India dropped four catches, three of those at second slip. That each of those spilled was by a different fielder tells a story in itself.

That, though, should take nothing away from Mathews. He showed patience, came through testing phases and knew when exactly to attack. Equally impressive was Chandimal, who showed tremendous resilience and curbed his natural instincts to lead the way for his side. 

The Indian bowlers had hazy conditions on their side when play started but Mathews and Chandimal came through a stiff examination, especially from Mohammed Shami.

Chandimal in particular was in trouble; a short ball hit his elbow, an outside edge fell short of the slip cordon, and he even needed some medical help after feeling unwell. Shami and Ishant Sharma targeted the ribs of both batsmen with short balls and a leg-slip in place but the breakthrough evaded them.

R Ashwin finished the day with three wickets against his name
R Ashwin finished the day with three wickets against his name

Things started to happen for a brief while after lunch when the under-bowled Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja started to get a little assistance from the pitch. The spinners were in the midst of a probing spell with a few balls beating the batsmen, but they still couldn’t dislodge the fourth-wicket pair.

With Mathews going through a tricky period leading to his century, India should have had a breakthrough off the first delivery with the second new ball. Ishant induced Mathews to poke to second slip, but Rohit grassed a sitter to his right at a comfortable height. Two balls later, Mathews flicked Ishant for his first century in two years. 

The dropped catch and the steady partnership added to India's frustration but there was more in store. Mathews, on 104, lofted Jadeja over mid-off, where a leaping Vijay Shankar failed to hold on to an overhead chance. 

The breakthrough finally came from Ashwin, surprisingly the least used bowler. The off-spinner went around the stumps and had Mathews playing for turn to a ball that went on with the angle. Wriddhiman Saha finally held on to the thin edge to send Mathews back just before tea.

Sadeera Samarawickrama, who couldn't open the batting after being hit on the helmet while fielding, tried to hit his way out of trouble against the spinners. It fetched him a few boundaries but a switch to pace ended his cameo, Ishant inducing a nick and Saha taking a stunner diving low to his right. 

Sri Lanka was still 219 runs away and needed the lower order to stick with its captain. Ashwin ensured that wouldn't happen, dismissing Roshen Silva and Niroshan Dickwella for ducks. Silva, the debutant, was undone by one with over-spin that bounced for a bat-pad catch to short-leg, while Dickwella was deceived by a quicker one that clattered into his stumps.

Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Gamage didn't last too long, but Sandakan did just about enough and remained unbeaten till bad light came into play.

Posted on 2017-12-05 00:11:44
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QUESTION?

Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

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THE DAY'S QUOTE

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews

FEEDBACK/COMMENTS

Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.

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