COLOMBO, Aug 22: India gained an upperhand in the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka by taking a handy 87-run first innings lead despite a fighting century by rival skipper Angelo Mathews, here today.
Resuming at the overnight score of 140 for three, the hosts were cruising along comfortably with Mathews (102) and Lahiru Thirimanne (62) adding 127 runs for the fourth wicket before losing seven wickets for a mere 65 runs on an engrossing third day�s play.
The hosts were bowled out for 306 shortly after the tea break with leg-spinner Amit Mishra being the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4/43 in 21 overs.
Mishra was well complemented by Ishnat Sharma (2/68) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/76) as they turned the tide just when it looked like Sri Lanka were on course of a decent first innings total.
India lost first innings centurion KL Rahul (2) in the very first over being bowled by Dhamika Prasad but Murali Vijay (39 batting) and Ajinkya Rahane (28 batting) ensured that there were no further setbacks by taking the score to 70 for one and extending the overall lead to 157 runs.
The highlight of the third day�s play was Mathews� sixth Test hundred as he gave ample display of his batting class and showed that he is ready to take over the mantle of their top batsman from the retiring legend Kumar Sangakkara.
His innings had 12 boundaries in all.
With two full days left, India will push for a series levelling win by setting a big target for the hosts on a tricky fifth day P Sara Oval track.
The track which has already shown signs of wear and tear with the spinners getting enough turn to make batting difficult on the final two days.
The first session belonged to Sri Lanka as they went into lunch at 224 for three with Mathews batting on 72 and Thirimanne was undefeated on 57.
But it was Ishant Sharma, who turned the complexion of the game with his post lunch spell. First he got rid of Thirimanne, caught behind off a fuller delivery. A rain break followed which must have impacted their concentration as first Test hero Dinesh Chandimal (11) fell cheaply offering a catch off Ishhant�s delivery to Rahul at first slip.
After Rahul�s cheap dismissal, Vijay and Rahane came together then and batted together for 28.3 overs, thus avoiding any further loss.
Rangana Herath (0-23) was given the new ball to see if he could extract more turn from the pitch and repeat his Galle performance. But the two batsmen didn�t give any chances. There were a couple close LBW shouts against both Vijay and Rahane, but they endured and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Dushmantha Chameera (0-14), Tharindu Kaushal (0-20) and Angelo Mathews (0-1) were the other bowlers, but they too were negotiated easily. India�s 50-mark came up in the 19th over and shortly afterwards the duo also brought up their 50-run stand off 112 balls.
Earlier, Lanka were placed at 298/7 at tea, thanks to skipper Angelo Mathews� Test hundred. But India wrapped up their innings within five overs after the tea break.
Jehan Mubarak (22) was bowled by Mishra in the first over itself, and then Ashwin trapped Rangana Herath (1) LBW three overs later. Tharindu Kaushal (6) was last man out in the 108th over, stumped off Mishra again. Dushmantha Chameera was the unbeaten batsman.
Before tea, there were a couple rain breaks. The first one immediately after play had resumed post-lunch. But it wasn�t a long one as compared to the showers couple overs later. That cost a loss of 33 minutes and play was extended for the session, and later for the day. � PTI
India 1st innings: 393 all out
Sri Lanka 1st innings (Overnight 140/3): D Karunaratne lbw b Yadav 1, J Silva c Ashwin b Mishra 51, K Sangakkara c Rahane b Ashwin 32, L Thirimanne c Saha b I Sharma 62, A Mathews c Vijay b Binny 102, D Chandimal c Rahul b I Sharma 11, J Mubarak b Mishra 22, D Prasad c Rahane b Mishra 5, R Herath lbw b Ashwin 1, T Kaushal st Saha b Mishra 6, D Chameera not out 0. Extras (b 2, lb 6, nb 5): 13. Total (all out; 108 overs): 306 (2.83 runs per over). Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-75), 3-114, 4-241, 5-259, 6-284, 7-289, 8-300, 9-306, 10-306. Bowling: I Sharma 21-3-68-2, U Yadav 19-5-67-1, S Binny 18-4-44-1, R Ashwin 29-3-76-2, A Mishra 21-3-43-4.
India 2nd innings: M Vijay not out 39, L Rahul b Prasad 2, A Rahane not out 28. Extras (w 1): 1. Total (1 wicket; 29.2 overs): 70 (2.38 runs per over). Fall of wickets: 1-3. Bowling: D Prasad 4-0-12-1, R Herath 11.2-3-23-0, D Chameera 4-0-14-0, A Mathews 2-1-1-0, T Kaushal 8-0-20-0.