It has been a tough ride for Sri Lankan cricket in the last few months. From failing to reach the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, losing the five-match one-day international (ODI) series to Zimbabwe and getting walloped by the visiting Indian side in the opening match of the three-Test series, luck has hardly been with them.
They've hardly fared any better in the ongoing match at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in Colombo. Not only did they lose out on the services of frontline pacer Nuwan Pradeep — the second casualty to injury in this series after Asela Gunaratne — but their attack was clueless against the in-form Indian batting line-up as the latter piled on a massive 622/9 in 158 overs, their second-highest total in the island nation.
As if things could not get any worse, they lost the wicket of Upul Tharanga without opening their account, with fellow opener Dimuth Karunaratne joining him in the pavilion shortly thereafter. Kusal Mendis hit a couple of deliveries in the last over towards the fence on the leg side, while captain Dinesh Chandimal got off the mark with a six. The two batsmen, who were batting at the time of the umpire signalling stumps on the second day, face a mountain of a task ahead as they try and guide the hosts to a respectable total, one that would keep them in the contest.
Partnerships are what the Sri Lankans need to undo the damage of the early wickets, and the one between Mendis and Chandimal – currently worth 17 – is perhaps the most crucial in this regard. The two have to battle two world-class spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a pitch that started to crumble in the second session of the second day. The road ahead is a minefield for these two, but it certainly isn't an impossible task for them to get past the dangers on the third day. All they need to hark back on is their performance in Galle two years ago.