Colombo: Indian bowlers continued their impressive showing despite Kushal Perera's defiant fifty as Sri Lanka were reduced to 175 for eight at tea on Day 3 of the third and final cricket Test here today.
Responding to India's first innings score of 312, Lanka have avoided the follow-on but still trail by 137 runs. Starting the session at 47 for five, the hosts kept losing wickets only to be helped by Perera's (55) maiden Test fifty and Rangana Herath's unbeaten 47.
Perera and Herath stitched a 79-run eight-wicket stand to give Lanka some time to breathe in between the wicket falls.
Pace spearhead Ishant Sharma has been the pick of the bowlers with impressive figures of 4-39. Stuart Binny has picked up two wickets while Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra have bagged one apiece.
Ishant struck twice in the post lunch session, picking up Lahiru Thirimanne for naught and the dangerous-looking Perera to break Lanka's back.
Mishra though got lucky to trap Tharindu Kaushal (16) LBW as the replay's clearly showed the batsman got an a thick inside edge before the ball hit the pads.
Dhammika Prasad (6 not out) got hit with an Ishant bouncer and the pacer walked off with an injured left hand.
Prasad's departure though brought Perera to the crease, and he played a good counter-attacking innings that allowed Lanka to assume a position of safety.
Spin was introduced in the 24th over in the form of Ashwin (0-33) but Perera didn't stop his attacking ploy. He
put on a quick-fire partnership with Herath coming off only 15.1 overs as Lanka's 100-mark came up in the 29th over. The left-handed debutant got his fifty off only 49 balls in that same over.
There were some heated words exchanged between Ishant and the two batsmen, and matters came to a head in the 34th over, after Perera mis-hit one and was caught at mid-off by Virat Kohli.
In this interim, India had conceded 109 runs for the loss of one wicket, even as Kaushal was scalped by Mishra (1-19) close to the break. Injured Prasad then came out to bat once again, and helped his side reach the break without any further losses.