Galle: India reached 23/1 in pursuit of 176 runs after they bowled out Sri Lanka for 367 runs in their second innings despite Dinesh Chandimal’s unbeaten 162 on the third day of the first Test at the Galle International Stadium here on Friday.
After conceding a 192-run first innings lead, the Sri Lankan top order failed to rise to the occasion. But young Chandimal registered his fourth century in Test cricket to bail the team out of trouble. Chandimal hit 19 fours and four sixes from 169 deliveries.
The right-hander forged a 125-run stand with Lahiru Thirimanne (44) when the hosts were 92/5 and it helped them overcome the innings deficit. Chandimal was also involved with another healthy partnership of 82 runs with Jehan Mubarak (49) for the sixth wicket to ensure that the Sri Lankans get a 100-run lead.
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (4-114) completed a 10-wicket haul in the match and he was ably supported by leg-spinner Amit Mishra (3-61). Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron bagged a wicket each.
At the end of the day, India lost Lokesh Rahul (5) to Rangana Herath. Shikhar Dhawan (not out 13) and nightwatchman Ishant (5 not out) were at the crease as India look in command to get another 153 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Earlier, starting the day at five for two, Sri Lanka lost Dhammika Prasad (3) to the first ball of the day as the nightwatchman failed to fend off a well directed bouncer from pacer Aaron and edged to Ajinkya Rahane at gully.
Skipper Angelo Mathews (39) joined former captain Kumar Sangakkara (40), who is playing in his penultimate international match. The left-right combination showed some resilience even though the Indian bowlers kept troubling them.
They forged a 87-run stand for the fourth wicket to bring the deficit down to 100 runs. However, left-hander Sangakkara nudged an Ashwin delivery that took a sharp turn away from him only to see a diving Rahane pouch a brilliant catch at slip in the 25th over.
Sangakkara, considered one of the greatest batsmen, walked back to a standing ovation from the Galle crowd.
In the very next over, Mathews fell to a bouncing ball from leg-spinner Mishra. Mathews played the ball on to his pads and it went to Lokesh Rahul at silly point.
With the skipper’s wicket, Sri Lanka reeled at 95/5 when young batsmen Chandimal and Thirimanne joined hands.
Starting the second session at 108 for five and his team still trailing by 84 runs, unbeaten Chandimal felt that attack was the best mode of defence and showed his intentions early.
Ashwin picked his third wicket of the innings as left-hander Thirimanne edged one to Rahane at slip. It was Tamil Nadu’s Ashwin’s ninth wicket of the five-day match.
Chandimal was joined by Mubarak and they were going strong till Harbhajan induced an edge off the latter that was caught at slip by Rahane to reduce the hosts to 302/7.
Mishra removed Herath as the batsman edged it to slip fielder Rahane, who created a world record by taking eight catches in a single Test match.
Ishant accounted for Tharindu Kaushal (7) while Ashwin rattled the stumps of 11th man Nuwan Pradeep (3) as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 367, leaving India 176 runs to win the match.
Virat Kohli-captained India reached 23/1 with only the loss of Rahul, who was trapped in front of the stumps by left-arm spinner Herath.