Delhi Test: How Sri Lankan batsmen defied R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja to manage draw
Sri Lanka restrict India's series honours to 1-0 as Dhananjaya & Co defy Ashwin and Jadeja on lifeless Day Five track
At 35 for four, Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel with their hands tied behind, and another Indian win felt like a forgone conclusion here at the Feroz Shah Kotla. That was before Dhananjaya de Silva unexpectedly sprang into action and struck a hundred worthy of a veteran to secure an improbable draw for the visitors on Day Five of the third and final Test here yesterday.
India captain Virat Kohli seems frustrated during Day Five of the Kotla Test against Sri Lanka yesterday. Pic/AFP
He was helped along the way by debutant Roshen Silva, who notched up an unbeaten 74 and a pitch that that aged like wine, vehemently refusing to deteriorate even on the final day. Neither the pacers or spinners found inconsistent bounce or raging turn, that one usually expects from a fifth day surface. "Overall we have bowled really well, looking at the wicket. We were expecting this wicket to deteriorate a little more, especially on days four and five, but maybe because of the weather, the wicket was still a flat one. There wasn't much help for the spinners on the last two days," one-drop batsman Cheteshwar Pujara explained.
Sri Lanka batsman Dhananjaya De Silva celebrates his century during the fifth day of third Test against India at the Kotla yesterday. Pic/AFP
Been there, done that
While Dhananjaya's heroic effort shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who saw him compile a hundred and a fifty against Australia at the Sinhalese Sports Club in 2016, the knock of 119 here, that ended with him retiring hurt, was his first noteworthy contribution since. While the odds were stacked heavily against him, his refusal to be tied down and be coaxed into playing for a draw worked wonders. Roshen, too, batted with similar intent, looking to score rather than block, and as the boundaries began to flow, the field began to retreat, which meant that the batsmen could defend more securely. "I thought if we are going to stick around without playing shots, we can't score. They are a quality bowling attack and I thought we should play shots against Jadeja and Ashwin," said Dhananjaya.
The duo were particularly severe on Ashwin, who was taken for 126 in his 35 overs. Though India were thoroughly outplayed by the youngsters on the day, they would rue missing the few chances that came their way on a largely unresponsive pitch. The most telling were the return catch of Dhananjaya that burst through Ashwin's fingers, Chandimal's dismissal off a no-ball from Ravindra Jadeja and a missed stumping of Niroshan Dickwella that could have opened the floodgates.
But the missed opportunities entailed that India could never pick wickets in clumps as they had previously in the series. After the fall of Angelo Mathews in the morning Dhananjaya and Chandimal added 112, Dhananjaya and Roshen added 58 and finally Roshen and Dickwella stitched together an unbeaten stand of 94, that took Sri Lanka to safety, before the two teams shook hands 20 minutes into the final hour of play.
119 Dhananjaya de Silva's score is the most by a visiting batsman while chasing in India. He went past Viv Richards' 109 at Kotla in 1987