Delhi Test: Sri Lanka enjoy best day, Indian fielders get butter-fingers
Sri Lanka enjoy their best day on tour thanks to broad blades of present skipper Chandimal and former captain Mathews; butter-fingered Indian fielders cause annoyance and mirth
Through the efforts of Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, who struck contrasting hundreds, Sri Lanka were just beginning to enjoy their most productive batting day on the tour, when a relentless Indian attack struck back in the final session to assert their supremacy once again here at the Feroz Shah Kotla. It took India 53.3 overs to strike on Day Three, but the fall of Angelo Mathews for 111 — his first century in over two years — heralded a familiar collapse, even as Chandimal held fort, batting through to stumps unbeaten on 147. Sri Lanka were reduced to 356 for nine at close, trailing India by 180 runs.
Slip fielder Cheteshwar Pujara watches SL captain Dinesh Chandimal celebrate his century at the Kotla yesterday. Pic/PTI
Mathews' charmed life
It's another matter that had India held on to their catches, the Sri Lankan innings could have folded much earlier. Mathews, who was dropped on six on Day Two, continued to live a charmed life, as he nervously flirted with an Ishant Sharma delivery on the score of 98 but was put down by Rohit Sharma at second slip. India used as many as three fielders in that position and each of them seemed to be suffering from an acute case of butter fingers.
A little later Mathews was given another reprieve by substitute Vijay Shankar, who put him down at mid-off. Jadeja was the unfortunate bowler on that occasion but Ishant Sharma was the one who suffered the most. Both Ishant and Mohammed Shami bowled menacingly on a largely unresponsive pitch, with no tangible rewards to show for their efforts till late in the day.
'Missed chances, part of game'
However, Shami wasn't disheartened by any of that. "We got an opportunity to bowl long spells, our fitness was tested and the whole bowling unit put in a great effort. Dropped catches are part of the game, it's not as though the fielders are machines and they will catch everything. It's better to ignore that and move on," said the pacer.
It was somewhat ironic that R Ashwin, hitherto the most under-used bowler, should be the one to bring India back into the contest and finish the day with the best figures (3 for 90). He sprang into action with a pearler from around the wicket that skid across Mathews after threatening to turn back in, leaving him no option but to play at it and nick it to Wriddhiman Saha, who took an equally impressive catch behind the wickets. Saha took another one-handed blinder low to his left, when Ishant induced an edge from Sadeera Samarawickrama. The next couple of batsmen didn't disturb the scorers as both Roshen Silva — the debutant — and Niroshan Dickwella.