Sri Lanka are tottering along at 138 for 5 at lunch on Day 3 with Sreesanth capturing three wickets this morning. Harbhajan Singh rounded off a perfect morning session with a doosra that cleaned up Angelo Mathews to complement Sreesanth’s good work. Sri Lanka are trailing behind by 504 runs and need to get to the target of 443 to avoid the follow on. Former Skipper Mahela Jayawardene (26 from 59 balls) who had atleast a couple of lives is batting along with Prasanna Jayawardene (2).
The visitors resumed the third day’s play at 66 for 1 in 24 overs. India started off with the combination of Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth. It was the right armer who provided the breakthrough for India in the 6th over of the day’s play when Tharanga Paranavitana (38 from 84 balls with 6 fours) chased an away going seamer to edge it behind. Skipper MS Dhoni came up with a lovely diving catch low to his left. Sreesanth would have had Mahela Jayawardene out in the next ball itself when he induced an outside edge with a perfect outswinger. Unfortunately for Sreesanth and India, neither Sachin Tendulkar at wide first slip nor MS Dhoni reacted at all to that catch!
Sreesanth took that bad luck in his stride and was immediately rewarded with the big wicket of Kumar Sangakkara who played onto his stumps while attempting an expansive cover drive. The Sri Lankan Captain struggled in his innings of 44 from 108 balls (with 5 fours) and could have been easily out lbw yesterday to Harbhajan Singh. Sangakkara’s wicket fell about four overs after Paranavitana and four overs after his dismissal, Samaraweera too departed back to the pavilion. The Sri Lankan run machined rocked back to play a forcing cut shot but the ball didn’t come onto the bat and also stayed low, the result was a dreaded inside edge that crashed onto the stumps.
With about 20 minutes to go for Lunch, Dhoni rested Sreesanth after a long spell and brought in Harbhajan Singh for the first time in the day’s play. The off spinner drew Angelo Mathews forward in defence and went past the bat with a doosra that straightened to hit the off stump bail. Harbhajan Singh came very close at removing Mahela Jayawardene as well before lunch when the right hander attempted a cute cut off a quicker one. Mahela could only edge his cut shot straight to Dravid at slip who failed to latch onto the sharp chance. The reaction time for Dravid was just 0.40 seconds!
Sreesanth has been the hero of the day so far with figures of 15-2-57-3. The rest of the bowlers have all done well in keeping the pressure on the batsmen.