In what can be termed as a 360 turnabout, India found themselves calling the shots big time with their seamers running through the top and middle order of the hosts, leaving them whimpering at 47 for five when play was stopped for lunch on Day three of the third Test in Colombo.
Cheteshwar Pujara was the last-man standing with a memorable unbeaten 145 as the Indian first innings folded for a more than competitive 312. The visiting pacers then wreaked havoc with the Sri Lankan batsmen.
Quite evidently Pujara’s gem of a century has rubbed off on the rest of the team as the Sri Lankan batsmen looked like hares caught in glaring lights, the top five caving in without fuss.
Ishant Sharma made the ball rear and kick to get the first wicket of Upul Tharanga (4), with the latter only managing a naïve prod off a beauty which was caught superbly by KL Rahul in the slips.
Though there was some doubt as to whether Ishant had over-stepped , the decision was later given in favour of the Indian bowler with the mane.
The next wicket to fall was Kaushal Silva’s (3) who misjudged the bounce off Umesh Yadav’s short-pitched delivery and shouldered arms only for the ball to take an edge off his bat and crash into the stumps.
With Sri Lanka reeling at 11 for 2, Dinesh Chandimal knocked off a quick-fire 23 and tried to salvage the situation.
But Stuart Binny’s fine delivery which held line and quickly cut in had Chandimal trapped leg-before, compounding Sri Lanka’s problems.
Chandimal claimed an inside-edge, but that was another decision that went against the Lankans as they were left tottering at 40 for 3.
Five runs later Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Matthews (1) was squared up by another beauty from Ishant which resulted in an edge to wicket-keeper Naman Ojha (his first victim in Tests) resulting in the fourth wicket to fall.
With Dimuth Karunaratne (11) falling to Stuart Binny off the ball before lunch, with the score at 47 for 5, Sri Lanka were definitely looking down the barrel.
A silly slog of Binny’s delivery pitched outside off resulted in another catch for Rahul at slips and as Karunaratne walked off, India knew they definitely were in the driver’s seat.
The way in which Team India’s pacers have dismantled Sri Lanka’s top-order may just be a trailer for the action in store!