New Delhi: Riding on Dhananjaya de Silva’s solid and adamant performance on the fifth day, Sri Lanka managed to pull off a draw against India in the third and final Test of the series. However, hosts clinch the series 1-0 to register a record ninth straight series win.
Sri Lanka, who were chasing the massive target of 410, scored 299 runs for the loss of five wickets at stumps on the final day of the match. Other than, De Silva’s ton, it was debutant Roshen Silva’s unbeaten half-century which helped the visitors to avoid loss. Roshen remained unbeaten on 74 while stumper Niroshan Dickwella was on 44 when the match ended.
Earlier, DE Silva (119) battled cramps to score a valiant hundred before he was forced to retire after sharing a valuable 58-run sixth-wicket stand with Roshen.
Once De Silva retired, it was Dickwella, who gave Roshen company till the end of the match.
Sri Lanka needed improbable 184 runs in the final session to win the Test match, but more importantly, need to preserve their last five wickets in order to earn a deserving draw. Also, it was the first time in six Tests this year that the Islanders have managed to stretch Virat Kohli’s men to the last session of a match.
De Silva’s innings was the highlight of the first two sessions as he was hardly troubled by the Indian bowlers en route his third Test hundred. Towards the end, he started hobbling due to the cramps, having played 219 balls. His innings was studded with 15 boundaries and a six off Ravichandran Ashwin.
The range of his strokes was impressive as he cut and pulled with ease whenever the spinners dropped anything short. Anything pitched up was driven with disdain.
With the pitch offering little help, Ashwin (1/126 in 35 overs) didn’t look as effective although he dismissed rival captain Dinesh Chandimal (36).
Jadeja (3/81 in 38 overs), who completed most of his overs within 90 seconds, bowled quick and flat with an occasional delivery turning sharply. Among the Indian quartet, he looked the most effective, keeping the batsmen pegged on the backfoot.
During the first session, Jadeja endured mixed luck with a couple of no-balls. The first one accounted for Angelo Mathews (1), with the umpires missing it altogether, while the second was a brilliant delivery to clean up Chandimal but the umpires were more cautious and promptly called him for overstepping.
First-innings centurion Mathews was dismissed when he edged one off Jadeja to the slips. But the left-arm spinner was lucky as he was not called for a no-ball even as replays showed that no part of his foot was behind the popping crease.
However, Jadeja was not so lucky when he bowled a classic left-armer’s delivery that had Chandimal beaten all ends up. This time umpire Joel Wilson checked for the no-ball and the Sri Lanka captain got a reprieve.
It was a day when Feroz Shah Kotla was bathed in bright sunshine, cutting through the haze that had forced the visiting players to don anti-pollution masks till yesterday.
The pitch was as flat as it could have been, which made strokeplay easier as De Silva and Chandimal added 105 runs in 33 overs for the fifth wicket.
The morning session was a battle of attrition for the Sri Lankans, with de Silva showing positive intent going for his strokes.
The shot that brought up his third Test fifty was a copybook lofted stroke. As Ashwin flighted one, he was quick to reach to the pitch of the delivery and hit it over long-on. The 50 came off 89 balls.
Dhananjaya also played a cheeky lap shot off Ashwin while seeing off a good spell from Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma.
His footwork was decisive against both pace and spin while he left the short deliveries well. The pitch being a flat one helped the Lankans to survive.
The elusive wicket came after lunch when Ashwin castled Chandimal with an off-break, when the batsman gave him the charge. However, that proved to be the last wicket of the match as the visitors didn’t give the upper hand to Indian bowlers while aiming for a draw.
Meanwhile, India, who have clinched the three-Test rubber against the Islanders 1-0, equalled Australia’s record of nine consecutive series wins from 2005 to 2008. (With Wires inputs)