After two dull days, the weather in Kolkata finally improved on Saturday and there were no interruptions during the course of play at the Eden Gardens. Sri Lanka made most of the good weather conditions as they were just seven runs short of India's target at stumps on Day 3.
Thanks to half-centuries from Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews, the visitors ended the day at 165 for the loss of four wickets. They had earlier bowled out India for 172. It could've been worse for the home team if not for some crucial contributions from the lower-order.
Sri Lanka are in a great position to take a big lead against India, and for them to do that, skipper Dinesh Chandimal and wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella have to occupy the crease for as long as possible. At the end of day three, Chandimal was unbeaten on 13 while Dickwella was on 14. A 100-run partnership between the two is the need of the hour for the visitors.
Dickwella has the ability to score run quickly, and if he's able to do that on Sunday, then that would take the Lankans to a really strong position. There are just two days of play left and if the weather holds, Sri Lanka should be aiming to win the Test. Having said that, both Chandimal and Dickwella should start Sunday's play on a cautious note. They should look to settle first, play out for few overs and then go for quick runs.
The fact that both players have performed against India when it was needed justifies Sri Lanka's ambition of winning the Kolkata Test. In their last Test series a few months back, Dickwella came good on two occasions, scoring quick half-centuries. Chandimal's highest score of 162 in just 169 balls in Tests came against India in 2015. Recently, he scored a 155 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, and so he's in good form.
Having a lead anywhere near 300 by the time day four ends would put Sri Lanka in prime position. And if that happens, then despite draw being the likeliest of the results going into the final day, early Indian wickets would put pressure on the hosts. The likes of Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Gamage showed in the first innings that they can trouble the Indian batting line-up and there's no reason why they can't do it again in the second innings.
It's a rarity that India are not being considered favourites to win a Test match at home at the start of the fourth day's play. Thirimanne and Mathews have given the Lankans a great platform and now it's up to skipper Chandimal and Dickwella to make sure their their team got close to a fantastic Test victory.
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