Ajinkya Rahane's woeful form continued even as a useful half-century from Shikhar Dhawan helped India take a commanding 355-run lead at tea on the fourth day of the third cricket Test against Sri Lanka in New Delhi.
India were 192 for 4 in their second innings with Virat Kohli (25) and Rohit Sharma (28) at the crease, having added 48 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket stand in only 7.4 overs. It is expected that Indians will give an hour of batting to the Sri Lankans during the final session today.
Earlier, courtesy skipper Dinesh Chandimal's career-best 164, Sri Lanka scored 373 in their first essay, conceding a handy 163-run lead to the hosts. Ishant Sharma (3/98) got Chandimal to wrap up the Lankan innings. Kohli promoted Rahane (10) to give him enough time to settle down and bat his way out of form.
However, desperation to hit his way out of trouble brought about Rahane's downfall. He stepped out to Dilruwan Perera and the lofted shot found Lakshan Sandakan at the long-on boundary. It came after Vijay (9) had played a lazy shot away from the body of Suranga Lakmal to give a catch to Niroshan Dickwella behind the stumps. In the post lunch session, it was Pujara, who batted in an uncharacteristic manner scoring 49 off only 66 balls with five boundaries to his credit.
The Saurashtra batsman was even more attacking than Dhawan, whose 67 off 91 balls had five fours and a six down the ground off chinaman Sandakan. The duo added 77 runs for the third wicket. The two batsmen were especially severe on off-spinner Perera. Whenever he dropped it short, the batsman hit him on either side of the wicket. If he tried to flight the deliveries, they stepped out and maneuvered it for singles and doubles.
Pujara was finally dismissed when Dananjaya de Silva got one to drift and straighten, taking the outside edge to land into Angelo Mathews' safe pair of hands. He was unhappy to have returned just a run short of another well-deserved half- century. Dhawan completed his half century off 82 balls, taking a single off Sandakan. He was dismissed by the chinaman when he tried to loft him for his second six, stumped by Dickwella.
The Sri Lankan players today, once again wore anti- pollution masks from the start of the Indian second innings due to the prevailing pollution in the national capital. Lakmal, in fact, threw up a couple of times while fielding at the third man area and the groundsmen had to put sand on that particular spot. For a change, the Sri Lankan players were wearing N95 anti-pollution masks, required to protect the lungs from the "very poor" air quality in Delhi.