Gautam Gambhir continued to bat solidly against both pace and spin to see India through without much damage in the final session on Day 4. The stylish left hander has moved onto a lovely 70 from 120 balls with a dozen boundaries. India finished the fourth day’s play at 190 for 2 and have a deficit of 144 runs to wipe out. The Sri Lankans were lucky to get the wicket of Rahul Dravid moments before the close of play when Umpire Daryl Harper erred yet again in this Test Match.
India had gone into the post tea session at 77 for no loss in 16 overs. However, Virender Sehwag spoilt that good start in no time with a horrendous shot. Instead of playing according to the merit of the bowling, Viru looked to stamp his authority on Ranganna Herath and ended up throwing his wicket with a needless slog sweep. Sehwag had played a risky lofted shot in just the second ball of the first over of the session and got away. Three balls later, he wanted to send Herath over mid wicket for a six against the turn and deservingly got out miscuing his shot at mid on. It was still not a bad show from Sehwag considering that he scored 51 (from 67 balls with 7 fours) which did its part in eating off the deficit in quicktime.
Rahul Dravid fresh from his first innings 177 walked in with a lot of confidence. The no.3 batsman made sure that he put away anything that was slightly loose in length for runs while Gambhir was determined to repeat another match saving innings which he had played in the past against New Zealand. The two batsmen defied the Lankan bowling comfortably until the 41st over when Dravid got struck on the pad by a reversing inswinger from left armer Chanaka Welegedara while attempting a flick. With Welegedara bowling from round the sticks and striking the pad infront of middle, it was certain that the ball was going down leg from the angle. But Harper got it wrong although it got neutralized because of giving one wrong decision to Angelo Mathews at a crucial juncture of play on Day 3. Dravid departed having scored 38 (from 66 balls with 6 fours) in a partnership of 86 for the second wicket.
India sent in a night watchman in Amit Mishra who has got 9 first class fifties to his name. There were less than 5 overs to play and it made sense to shield Sachin Tendulkar and the other middle order bats. Mishra showed his potential by nicely getting behind the line to the quicks although he showed his immaturity when he stepped out and tried to slog sweep Muralitharan. Apart from that Mishra hang in well and even helped himself to a couple of boundaries in his unbeaten 25-ball stay while Gambhir kept his concentration intact to remain unbeaten.
The pitch has remained very good even now and it won’t be surprising if even Amit Mishra goes on to make a fifty! India will have to bat badly tomorrow to lose this game and will have to bat atleast a couple of sessions well to feel comfortable of a draw.