Sri Lanka began Day 3 with 50 runs for the loss of 2 wickets and ended the day with the scoreboard reading 209 for the loss of 2 wickets, it would seem like runs were hard to come but they didn't lose any wickets either. Alas, the scores were separated by an innings. As India enforced them to follow-on after they folded out for 183 in the first innings at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo.
Staring a mammoth deficit of 439 runs and the way the Islanders have carried themselves in the series, it would not be considered ambitious if few predicted the fate of the match and thereby the series on the day itself. With Upul Tharanga dismissed cheaply in the 2nd innings as well, the prediction was beginning to realise.
Kusal Mendis came out next to join Dimuth Karunaratne and then despite the ball turning sharply off the surface, they had the heart to play high-risk shots. Karunaratane mentioned before the start of Day 3 that the Lankans should look play the sweep and reverse sweep on such a wicket and the duo put the theory into practice. Soon, they grew in confidence and the runs started to flow. The spirited 2nd wicket stand frustrated the Indians as both the batsmen scored freely. Mendis slammed his 3rd Test century with able support provided by Karunaratne. They were meandering to the end of the day's play ensuring they go into Day 4 with 9 wickets in hand, until Hardik Pandya got rid of Mendis. It brought an end to the 191-run stand – the highest partnership of the series for Sri Lanka – as the 22-year old departed for an inspiring 110.
Nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara was sent out to negate the last few minutes, which he did along side Karunaratne, who remained unbeaten for 92 at stumps. Sri Lanka need not look further for inspiration going into Day 4 as they still have the senior pros in Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews left to bat.
The precedent for tomorrow has been set by the Mendis-Karunaratne pair and it is for the other batsmen to follow suit. The plan to play a positive brand of cricket in the latter part of Day 3 worked, they need to come out with the same intent on Sunday. With the hosts trailing by 230 runs and two full days left to play, the odds are surely stacked up against them, but applying some common sense along with some determination can help them narrow the chasm and then start to look at the bigger picture from thereon.