The second day of the third Test between Sri Lanka and India at the Pallekele International Stadium on Sunday could very well prove to be the penultimate day of the match, with the hosts going into stumps on a score of 19/1 in their second innings, trailing by another 333 runs.
Day 2 was hardly any different from what has been the norm in the series so far. The Sri Lankans failed to capitalise on early wickets that could have restricted India to a sub-400 total. Instead, they hardly had any answers for a certain Hardik Pandya, who raced away to his maiden First Class century to guide India to 487. The Sri Lankan batsmen looked clueless in their first innings save the 63-run fifth wicket partnership between Dinesh Chandimal (48) and Niroshan Dickwella (29), as young Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav took centre stage with a haul of 4/40, and the hosts crumbled to a paltry 135. As if things couldn't get any worse, struggling opener Upul Tharanga signed off with yet another low score in the second Sri Lankan essay.
There is little that stands in India's way in their quest for a historic 3-0 series result on Sri Lankan soil. The Indians were outright clinical on the second day, with the team functioning like a well-oiled machine, and aren't expected to be any different on what should be the final day of the series. Indian skipper Virat Kohli should begin the day with a combination of pace and spin, preferably with Ravichandran Ashwin, a spinner known for putting the shiny cherry to good use. Mohammed Shami bowled a fantastic, attacking line on Sunday, and with the pacers still getting some movement, the Bengal pacer shouldn't deviate from the set plan.
The Indians, though, can expect some help from the Lankan batsmen themselves. There was a visible communication gap in the hosts' ranks when it came to running between the wickets, which led to the run out of a dangerous-looking Kusal Mendis. There were also occasions where they threw their wickets away — Tharanga being a prime example of this. The gameplan for the Indians, therefore, is a pretty simple one. Bowl tight lengths, dry up the scoring opportunities and wait for the opposition to implode. An early wicket or two on the third day will surely help the visitors in their pursuit.