Australia wrestled with a seaming pink ball under the lights to build a 268-run lead with six wickets in hand over England in an engrossing second Ashes Test in Adelaide on Monday.
In testing batting conditions the Australians struggled against the moving ball in the final twilight session as England roared back after trailing by 215 runs in the first innings.
On a fast-moving third day, England were dismissed for 227 but the Australians found it difficult to score against the hooping ball under the lights.
At the close, Australia were 53 for four with Peter Handscomb on three and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon not out three.
The Australians lost the wickets of Cameron Bancroft (4) and Usman Khawaja (20) to James Anderson and a restrained David Warner (14) to Chris Woakes in the final session.
Skipper Steve Smith survived a desperately close leg before wicket review before he had scored off Anderson but was not so lucky when he missed out in another tight lbw review to Woakes for six.
Holders England were fighting to stay in the Test as Australia chased a potentially decisive 2-0 lead in the five-Test series after winning last week’s Brisbane opener by 10 wickets.
Lyon and Mitchell Starc brought off spectacular catches as Australia had England under pressure in the first two sessions Monday.
Off-spinner Lyon pulled off a blinding one-handed catch to dismiss Moeen Ali off his own bowling in the second over after the first break.
Moeen chipped to the left of Lyon, who flung himself across the pitch in a split second reaction to take the catch.
Lyon, nicknamed GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), again produced a sublime example of cricketing skill following his laser throw to run out James Vince in the first Brisbane Test.
Moeen had scored 25 off 57 balls in a 30-run stand with Jonny Bairstow.
Five overs later Bairstow was on his way for 21 after Starc juggled the return catch and finally accepted it behind his back.
Stuart Broad and Anderson were dismissed shortly after the dinner break both off Lyon to end the England innings.
Lyon finished with four for 60 and took over from South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada (54) as the leading wicket-taker in the world this year with 55, while paceman Mitchell Starc claimed three for 49.
Woakes and Craig Overton dug in to put on 66 for the eighth wicket before Woakes fell to a short-pitched Starc delivery spooning a catch back to the bowler for 36. Overton remained unbeaten on 41.
Australia grabbed four wickets in the first session, including key batsmen Joe Root and Alastair Cook.
Root shaped to drive Pat Cummins only to send a thick edge to Cameron Bancroft at third slip for just nine.
Root, third in the Test batting rankings, only faced 10 balls while Cook, England’s other big hope, was deceived by Lyon’s flight and edged to Steve Smith at slip for 37 off 90 balls.
The former captain, who plundered 766 runs when England won in Australia seven years ago, has scores of two, seven and 37 in his three innings in the current series.
Vince went in the day’s second over to a poor shot, edging Josh Hazlewood outside off-stump to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for two.
Dawid Malan was the other wicket to fall off an inside edge caught behind to Cummins for 19.
Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal remained unbeaten on 147 before bad light brought play to a slightly premature halt with the visitors 356-9 in reply to India’s first innings total of 536 runs.
Here, we look at the key talking points of the third day at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
SENIOR DUO ANGELO MATHEWS AND DINESH CHANDIMAL MAKE MARK
Amidst all the recent failures of the islanders, the need for the senior players to step up had been spoken about constantly within the team and management. With the rapid injunction of fresh faces in the past year or so, experienced players have perhaps not done enough to help smoothen the transition from the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane and Muttiah Muralitharan.
On Monday, Angelo Mathews and skipper Dinesh Chandimal stood up in the face of tremendous pressure to register their eighth and tenth Test tons respectively. Both had to play extremely patient innings as India’s bowlers constantly troubled them but they dug in to put together a 181-run stand to put the visitors in a position of relative safety.
INDIA’S SLIP CATCHING WOES LET THEM DOWN
While Mathews and Chandimal will take the plaudits for the day for their valiant centuries, they were certainly given a massive helping hand along the way in the form of some shambolic slip fielding by the hosts.
Mathews, who crossed the three-figure mark for the first time in over two years, was given three lifelines before getting to the landmark. He was dropped at second slip twice with India skipper Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay being guilty of putting down sitters. There was no improvement on day three when Rohit Sharma failed to grab a straightforward chance from Mathews in the second slip.
What was perhaps more baffling was the reluctance to use perhaps India’s most accomplished slip fielder in his favoured position as he was placed instead at gully. India’s pacers did well to make to create chances on a flat surface but they were let down by the catching in worrying signs for India before the tour of South Africa.
RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN NOTORIOUSLY UNDERUTILISED
India’s leading spinner and 300-wicket man Ashwin was bafflingly underused by Kohli on both day and day three until the second session. The off-spinner was given only five overs in the first session of day three despite creating a leg-before wicket chance. Ashwin was not allowed to settle down into a rhythm as he deprived of a chance to bowl more than five overs on the trot.
That he provided the vital breakthrough just before tea after the marathon stand between Sri Lanka’s veteran makes the decision to under-bowl him initially even more surprising. Perhaps Kohli’s eyes were already on South Africa as he looked to give his pacers more of the ball but surely Ashwin could have been given a far greater role in Delhi.
DELHI PITCH SHARES LITTLE COMPARISONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA
Before the start of the series, Kohli had spoken about using the Sri Lanka series to prepare for the South African tour in the absence of enough warm-up games. The talk had been about using green tops in the three Tests to help mirror conditions in South Africa.
Sure enough the pitch at Kolkata for the first Test was a fast bowler’s delight but the subsequent pitches at Nagpur and now Delhi have been more or the less what one can usually expect from a subcontinent track.
Big scores and four tons have already come from the first three days as batsmen continue to dominate on a pitch not assisting the pacers in a way India would have liked. With the South Africa series starting almost immediately after the limited-overs series against the islander, surely there is a danger of India being massively under-cooked for the tough tour.
Kohli cracked a career-best 243 but his sixth double century as captain was overshadowed on the second day after Sri Lanka complained about air pollution in the Indian capital, halting play three times.
The second session of the match was delayed more than 20 minutes as smog visibly worsened at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium and the umpires consulted the match referee and team doctors.
Sri Lankan fast bowlers Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal returned to the pavilion amid the drama, leaving the visitors short of fielders and prompting Kohli to declare India’s first innnings on 536-7.
Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas defended the decision to halt the match, saying players’ safety is of “paramount importance”.
“Obviously it is well documented that Delhi has high level of pollution. They had got extremely high at one point, we had players coming in at one point and vomiting,” Pothas told reporters.
“There were oxygen cylinders in the dressing room. It is not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game.
“Under most circumstances we wanted to play cricket. We just wanted to have some clarity on the safety of players,” Pothas said.
Sri Lanka were 131 for three at stumps, trailing the hosts by 405 runs.
Angelo Mathews, on 57, and skipper Dinesh Chandimal, on 25, were batting when bad light stopped play for the day.
Mathews, who returned to form with a fighting half-century, and Chandimal steadied the Sri Lankan innings with an unbeaten 56-run stand after pace spearhead Mohammed Shami struck with the very first ball to dismiss left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne.
Lanky paceman Ishant Sharma then trapped Dhananjaya de Silva lbw for one as the visitors took tea on 18-2.
Dilruwan Perera, who scored 42 after opening the batting in place of injured opener Sadeera Samarawickrama, then staged a gritty 61-run partnership with Mathews.
Both Perera and Mathews were given reprieves, on 16 and six respectively, after Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli dropped catches in the slips.
Perera was eventually trapped lbw by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as Sri Lanka slipped furthur.
‘VIRAT DIDN’T NEED MASK’
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 3, 2017
But the day belonged to Kohli, who recorded his second successive 200-plus score to pulverise the Sri Lankan attack after India started the day on 371-4.
He surpassed West Indies great Brian Lara to become the first international captain to register six double centuries. Lara had five.
Kohli, who started the day on 156 and batted over seven hours, combined with overnight partner Rohit Sharma, who scored 65, to put on 135 for the fifth wicket.
The skipper, who made 213 in India’s thrashing of Sri Lanka in the second Test, pulled Lakmal for a couple to reach his milestone, raising his bat to acknowledge a raucous home crowd.
The Delhi-born star was finally trapped lbw off left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who claimed four wickets in the innings.
Innings break! India declare their innings on 536/7.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 3, 2017
“Virat batted close to two days, he didn’t need a mask! We are focused on what we need to do. The conditions are the same for both teams,” said India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun.
“I don’t think we were too worried about pollution. The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) schedules these matches and our job is to get the best out of our team. Focus is more on that,” he added.
India lead the series 1-0 and need only a draw for a record-equalling ninth successive Test series triumph.
England and Australia are the other sides to have achieved the feat.
Sri Lanka close Day Two on 131/3 in reply to India’s score of 536/7d. Angelo Matthews is still there fighting on 57*, but @imVkohli again stole the show with his 243. #INDvSLpic.twitter.com/UZQ0a0AXL8
— ICC (@ICC) December 3, 2017
Provided by AFP Sport