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India on verge of another home series win after Sri Lanka are left with an uphill task

article_imageDAY THREE PREVIEW
Last updated on 13 Mar 2022 | 09:17 PM
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India on verge of another home series win after Sri Lanka are left with an uphill task

Let alone a win, not even to draw a Test, has a team has scored 300+ against India at home in the 4th innings

It has just been two days and we are almost at the end of the Test and Sri Lanka are left with a mountainous task of chasing 447.

In the two days played, 30 wickets fell, 16 on day one and 14 on day two. However, the runs have come by at brisk pace. After scoring 252 in the first innings, India managed to bowl out Sri Lanka for a paltry score of 109 and attained a massive lead of 143. On this pitch, that lead is equivalent to a 200 lead.

Thanks to a blazing knock of 50 from 31 balls by Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer continued his form with another 67 following his 92 from the first innings. With three days and nine sessions left, a result is confirmed, mostly siding towards India.

Fourth innings against India, a wall of gigantic size

To bat in the fourth innings in Asia is one of the most difficult tasks even for a subcontinent nation, against India in their backyard it amplifies more. The highest target ever chased in the fourth innings against India in India is 276 by West Indies in 1987. In fact, only twice has a target of 200+ been chased in the fourth innings. The fact here is, Sri Lanka need to create history if they are to chase this down, not only in India, but in overall Tests, no team has chased a target as high as this.

However, winning is a distant journey, to draw a Test in the fourth innings, no team has scored 300+ against India in the fourth innings in India. Sri Lanka themselves had scored 299/5 after batting 103 overs in Delhi in 2017 to draw the Test, which is the highest score by a visiting team in the fourth innings in India. This is a testimony of the difficulties that lie ahead for Sri Lanka to survive this Test, especially with three days left.

Threatening Indian bowlers

If that doesn’t account for the difficulties, here comes another mountain that Sri Lanka need to climb. Though the pitch was beneficial for the spinners, Indian fast bowlers in the first innings were a handful for the Sri Lankan batters. Now that the pitch has deteriorated more, spinners will be more threatening in the first two sessions and in the twilight, pacers will come into play once more.

In Tests, the four bowlers in the current playing XI, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, all have a bowling average of less than 23. Axar Patel is an additional threat. Out of the lot, Ashwin is the most threatening. In 29 innings, he has bagged 81 wickets at an average 18.6 with six five-wicket hauls.

To add more to their agony, in this Test as the session has gone by, wickets have fallen in a flurry. In the first session, combined from the two days, nine wickets have fallen at an average of 19.6. In the second session, 10 wickets at an average of 27.9 and in the third session 11 wickets at an average of 19.1.

In the first two sessions, spinners have bagged 15 wickets at an average of 24.9 and they have done most of the bowling. Whereas, in the third session, pacers have bagged seven wickets at an average of 13.4 as compared to four wickets by spinners at an average of 29. Overall, it’s just threats over threats for Sri Lanka.

Mendis and Karunaratne, how much can they withstand?

One of the positives for Sri Lanka in the fourth innings is certainly Kusal Mendis. In Tests since 2018, the right-hander averages 59.4 and has scored the most runs in the aforementioned time. Among batsmen who have played 10+ innings, his average is the best. In addition, he has a balls/dismissal ratio of 107 in the fourth innings. Under the same condition, only Dean Elgar has a better balls/dismissal ratio (108.1).

The skipper Dimuth Karunaratne also has a decent record in the fourth innings in the time frame. In 13 innings, he averages 36.2 and has a balls/dismissal ratio of 75.5.

But, the biggest question here is, how much of resistance can they put up? It’s not three sessions that they have to bat out, it’s three days. 

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