When Sri Lanka took to field on day three, their confidence was already sapped. After a poor day one, where they were bowled out for a meager 205, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara added insult to injury with centuries as India took a 107-run lead with eight wickets in hand. An inspirational fightback was desperately the need of the hour.
However, by the end of day three the Islanders were left paralysed by Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma as India piled on 610/6 declare with the captain hitting his fifth Test double ton and Rohit announcing his comeback with an unbeaten 102. Along with the confidence the energy was also drained. Sri Lanka were beaten like a snare drum. The effect of Spending 176.1 overs in the field was palpable in the Sri Lanka's body language and their fielding. They looked absolutely battered Sadeera Samarawickrama's left alone which saw the ball shatter his stumps was just one of the many indications.
The visitors still trail by 384 runs. A good night's sleep would be the need of the hour. However, India need to make sure that they need to take the ruthless approach and go for the kill right from the first over of day four. Seven of the 10 batsmen fell to spinners in first innings. The pitch is not doing much but the cracks have started to develop and the odd ball is misbehaving after hitting those cracks. This is where Ravindra Jadeja can be extremely dangerous, especially with low bounce and the disguising straighter ones.
Sri Lanka have struggled against spinners, their batting coach conceded the fact after their first innings capitulation.
“This group, in the last two years, hasn’t batted well against spin. I have observed that. (There’s) a lot of work for us to do in the future … traditionally we have been good players of spin bowling, but last two years we have struggled," Samaraweera said after day one.
This is where India should hit the right button and the spinners need to put relentless pressure on the Sri Lankan batsmen. Ashwin and Jadeja are not new to it. They have done it over and over again. The accuracy and guile can just befuddle the opposition. Sri Lanka are not the first team that has suffered such helpless situation against India in India. They are battered, they are bruised, they are paralysed, Virat Kohli and Co need to just unleash the knockout punch to take a 1-0 lead.