Kumar Sangakkara scored 40 in his final innings at Galle © AFP
Kumar Sangakkara scored 40 in his final innings at Galle © AFP

Galle: India continued their fine bowling display and made giant strides towards victory by reducing a clueless Sri Lanka to 108 for five at lunch on the third day of the opening cricket Test. After their exploits in the first innings, spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin (2/43) and Amit Mishra (2/5) yet again wrecked the Lankan middle-order, while pacer Varun Aaron (1/24) also chipped in with a wicket. The hosts still trail India by 84 runs with only five wickets and over two days play remaining. At the lunch break, Dinesh Chandimal (10 not out) and Lahiru Thirimanne (4 not out) were at the crease. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka 2015, 1st Test at Galle, Day 3

Retiring Kumar Sangakkara (40 runs, 70 balls, 5 fours) and skipper Angelo Mathews (39 runs, 63 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) showed some fight earlier in the day by putting on 87 runs for the fourth wicket in a bid to resurrect the Lankan innings. The day began with night watchman Dhammika Prasad (3) trying to prolong his stay at the crease. But it was not to be as Aaron, who started the proceedings had other ideas. ALSO READ: India 5 wickets away from win against Sri Lanka at lunch on Day 3 of 1st Test at Galle

The very first delivery of the day rose sharply on the batsman and the tail-ender couldn’t negotiate the bouncer with Ajinkya Rahane completing a simple catch at gully. This brought Mathews and Sangakkara together at the crease, and they resisted the Indian bowling for 20.4 overs. ALSO READ: Sri Lanka tottering at 95/5 vs India on Day 3 of 1st Test at Galle; Angelo Mathews OUT for 39

It was a beautiful partnership with both batsmen looking to play positive cricket and attack the spinners. Ishant Sharma (0-16), who was the other bowler to start the day, hit Mathews in the abdomen in the eighth over of the innings, but the Lankan skipper recovered and carried on.

Sangakkara got into the groove with some dazzling boundaries off Ishant before spin was introduced by Indian captain Virat Kohli. Ashwin got enough grip and bite from the day three pitch, more than the other two Indian spinners, but he was rendered ineffective by Mathews and Sangakkara initially.

Sri Lanka crossed the 50-run mark in the 15th over of the innings and then Mathews and Sangakkara brought up their 50-run partnership off 67 balls. With both the batsmen looking settled, runs had started to flow easily. At the stroke of the hour mark in the morning session, Mathews dispatched Ashwin for a six.

Then, Kohli introduced Harbhajan Singh (0/19) into the attack but the experienced spinner failed trouble the batsmen, bowling flat most of the times. In between Ashwin came closest to taking a wicket when Mathews played him towards legside and Rohit Sharma at backward short-leg nearly caught the ball before it touched the grass.

The break-through finally came in the 25th over when Ashwin got the ball to spun and bounce sharply to induce an edge from Sangakkara which was brilliantly caught by a diving Rahane at slip.

The left-hander, who is set to retire after the second Test of the ongoing series, walked off to a standing ovation from the crowd gathered at the Galle International Cricket Stadium after playing his final innings here. Chandimal then came out to bat and with two right-handers at the crease, prompting Kohli to replace Harbhajan with Mishra.

The leg-spinner got instant purchase and dismissed Mathews in the 26th over, two wickets in two overs for India, as K L Rahul took a safe catch at silly point. From there on, there were constant appeals by the Indians as Thirimanne came to join Chandimal at the crease. Both the batsmen were really lucky to survive as there were three umpiring howlers in a row.

First, in the 27th over by Ashwin, umpire Bruce Oxenford failed to notice Chandimal edging the ball onto his helmet, caught at backward short leg. He was on 5 then. He survived once again in the 30th over bowled by Mishra when a shot ricocheted off Rohit’s boot at silly point and was caught by the bowler. Third umpire Ranmore Martinesz ruled in the favour of batsmen after quite a few replays, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

In between, Mishra too was denied Thirimanne’s wicket by a umpriing howler. The left-hander, who was yet to op-en his account, got an inside edge onto his pads before being caught in the close-in cordon but umpire Nigel Llong throught otherwise.