With the islanders in trouble at 31-3 chasing 410 in the final innings, Virat Kohli’s men look on course to win their ninth consecutive Test series win.
Here, we look at the two good and bad performances on a day which was dominated by the hosts.
RAVINDRA JADEJA’S EXTRA OVER SPELLS TROUBLE FOR SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka were placed at 31-1 with the light fading at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. They would have hoped umpire Nigel Llong would bring an end to play when he got out the light-meter.
The Englishman allowed Jadeja to bowl one another over and it was these six balls which spelt trouble for the islanders.
With the very first delivery Jadeja struck as he had Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha. The opener was looking to defend but the ball held its line before taking a faint outside edge.
Nightwatchman Suranga Lakmal blocked out two deliveries in succession but disaster struck in the fourth ball as Jadeja turned around to appeal vociferously for the leg-before decision.
Little did he know that the ball had crept onto the stumps to bowl Lakmal.
VIRAT KOHLI’S FABULOUS SERIES WITH THE BAT
After his second consecutive double-ton in the first innings, Kohli continued the good form on the fourth day with a well made fifty.
After starting with a duck in the first innings in the opening Test at Kolkata, Kohli has since gone to score 104, 213, 243 and 50 runs in his subsequent stays at the crease.
He overtook Brian Lara for the most double-tons as a Test captain with his sixth in the first innings. His 610 runs in the series make him the runaway leader in runs scored and it will be no surprise to see Kohli walk away with the man of the series award come Wednesday.
AJINKYA RAHANE FAILS YET AGAIN
The Indian deputy skipper breached the 10-run mark for the first time in the series after a dreadful batch of form. While he was promoted to number three on Tuesday, it wasn’t enough as the 29-year-old perished on exactly 10 while trying to hit Dilruwan Perera over the top.
Rahane’s scores in the series read a sorry 4,0,2,1 and 10. A combined total of 17 runs in five innings represent a miserable return for the right-hander before going into a tough away tour of South Africa.
Other Indian batsmen have all scored big at one point or the other in the series but Rahane has failed to rediscover his touch as he has struggled with timing.
DELHI’S SMOG STRIKES YET AGAIN
Day two of the Test had descended into a farce after Sri Lanka’s players had to resort to wearing face-masks amidst the high pollution levels in New Delhi.
Pacer Lakmal had to leave the field while developing a cough during his run-up as play was stopped several times over the issue.
Things got no better on Tuesday when India’s pace spearhead Mohammed Shami was seen coughing on the field while going back to his run-up while bowling.
The fast bowler has removed Sadeera Samarawickrama with a display of ferocious and aggressive pace bowling but it seems his efforts took a toll on him.
Sri Lanka were reeling on 31-3 while chasing a daunting 410-run victory target on Tuesday in a pollution-tainted third Test in New Delhi blighted by scenes of bowlers vomiting on the ground.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja struck twice in an over to rattle the visitors, who must bat out three more sessions to save the match and draw the series with top-ranked India.
Dhananjaya de Silva was on 13 and Angelo Mathews had yet to open his account when bad light stopped play at the smoggy Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
Fast bowler Mohammad Shami dismissed opener Sadeera Samarawickrama off a roaring bouncer but stopped in mid-over to vomit, crouching down and then gulping water.
He went on to complete the over but left the field shortly afterwards.
In the morning session it was Sri Lankan paceman Suranga Lakmal who threw up twice. He went to the dressing room briefly but returned to the field, bowling 14 overs and taking one wicket.
Groundsmen rushed in to cover the spot with sand and sawdust as smog in the heavily polluted Indian capital took centre stage for a fourth day in a row.
A doctor at the stadium examined three Sri Lankan players and said their vital signs were normal.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who made 50, declared India’s second innings on 246-5 after Rohit Sharma reached his half-century in the final session, setting the visitors a formidable victory target.
No Test team has chased down 410 since 2003, when the West Indies defeated Australia after making 418 runs.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan top-scored in India’s second innings with 67 on an easy wicket. Apart from Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Dhananjaya de Silva took a wicket each.
Earlier, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 373, conceding a 163-run lead to India who had declared on 536 for seven.
But it was the hazardous smog in Delhi that again dominated the day.
The US embassy website showed concentrations of the smallest and most harmful particles at 398 — 15 times the World Health Organization’s safe limit. Conditions were even worse on Monday.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India said late Monday that New Delhi could be dropped as a venue during winter, when pollution across the region spikes.
BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary said venues would be reconsidered “in view of the situation which was encountered in the last two to three days”.
“The BCCI has been sensitive on the smog and fog matter over the years,” he added.
After three days of Australian dominance, Root took up the challenge of a record run chase with a fighting unbeaten half-century as the momentum began to shift towards England, roared on by their bellowing Barmy Army supporters.
In contrast, his counterpart Steve Smith, who attracted criticism for not enforcing the follow-on despite a 215-run first innings lead, burned two reviews in the space of three balls and put down a tough catch.
At the close of an absorbing fourth day in the first day-night Ashes Test, England were 176 for four with Root unconquered on 67 and nightwatchman Chris Woakes not out on five – 178 runs from victory with six wickets in hand heading into Wednesday’s final day.
The highest winning fourth innings at the Adelaide Oval is 315 for six by Australia against England in 1902.
“A win would be huge for us, both in terms of what it would do for our confidence as a team and we would be all square in the series,” England paceman James Anderson said.
“It would also have a potential effect on them (Australia) for a team to be in such a commanding position to then lose that,” he added.
“It’s very rare that a team declares and loses a game so if we can get a result tomorrow it would be huge for a number of reasons.”
Root had a leg before wicket decision on 32 off Nathan Lyon overturned on review, with the ‘Hawk-Eye’ tracker indicating the ball would have gone over the stumps.
Australia then lost their second and last review in the 43rd over when Dawid Malan survived an lbw challenge on three off Josh Hazlewood, with the ball again tracked as going over the stumps.
Adding to Smith’s anxiety, he also dropped Malan on eight in a sharp one-handed attempted catch at slip off Lyon.
“We’re still reasonably confident,” the Australia team bowling coach David Saker told reporters.
“Obviously, the last two days haven’t gone to plan … we’re still in front of the game but it’s getting closer and closer and Joe’s innings has made that possible,” he added.
“But if we can get his wicket in the morning I think the game changes quite quickly.”
After the chaos of the previous night’s session when Australia lost four wickets, England had a much better time under the lights. They only lost the wickets of James Vince and Malan and otherwise scored freely.
Vince was beaten by a pitched-up Mitchell Starc delivery, getting a big nick to Peter Handscomb at slip for 15. Malan put on 78 with Root before he was bowled by Pat Cummins for 29.
England lost openers Alastair Cook and Mark Stoneman before the dinner break.
Lyon won a successful lbw review to remove Cook (16), ending a 53-run opening stand with Stoneman, who was snapped up in the gully for 36.
The Australians were knocked over for 138 off 58 overs at tea but, bolstered by their 215-run innings lead, this left England with a record chase.
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker Anderson took five for 43 – his first five-wicket haul in Australia – while fellow paceman Woakes captured four for 36.
Usman Khawaja and Starc were joint top scorers with just 20 each in Australia’s modest second innings.
England kept the Australians under pressure after they resumed the day at 53 for four.