Sri Lanka literally ended the third day in the box seat on 329 for 9 wickets to lead Pakistan by 333 runs after the third day’s play of the first Test match of the World Test Championship on a predictably deteriorating pitch of the Galle International Stadium for its coastal belt windy environ smitten by unpredictable bad weather. That run-thrust rotated mainly around three of the frontline in opening batsman Oshada Fernando 64 off 126 balls inclusive of 6 boundaries and a six, Kusal Mendis 76 off 126 powered by 4 over the top and 9 boundaries and Dinesh Chandimal unbeaten on 86 off 121 tucked with 5 boundaries and 2 over the top.
That frontline harmonisation was indeed a manifestation of the Lankan batting coming good. The run infusion lent by the rest that followed in keeping the run pace going to that 300-plus total as much a wholly orchestrated act by the Lankan batsmen to setting Pakistan a challenging target was a perfect scripting. Oshada Fernando executed his share in the aplomb to keeping the tempo going in a 91-run third wicket partnership with Kusal Mendis off 29.2 overs.
Of course, the Kusal Mendis element to the Lankan cause was indeed ballooning in a marked pick up to his form. He added a further 32 together with Angelo Mathews 9 off 25 (1×4) for the fourth wicket.
In that fashioning Dinesh Chandimal
once again anointing himself as the trump card in the pack in an extraordinarily sky high batting performance remaining unbeaten on a top score as in the first innings of 86 off 121 deliveries in a 371-run harvest in three successive innings tucked into the match winning unbeaten 209 against Australia was of a batsman reincarnated.
Chandimal’s batting grew from strength forging partnerships of 40 for the sixth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva who .made a run a ball 20 hitting 2 boundaries, and 17 for the seventh wicket with Niroshan Dickwella a run a ball 12 (2×4), and 32 for the eighth wicket with Ramesh Mendis 22 off 32 who has progressively kept improving with each game as an effective all-rounder who has also been among the wickets.
To boot was the invaluable 41-run ninth-wicket alliance with No.10 Maheesh Theekshana who in an admirable repeat performance with the bat as in the first innings stonewalled for 11 off 52. It left the steely Dinesh Chandimal looking for a final push against the Pakistanis when he resumes his innings in the company of last man Prabath Jayasuriya on 4 with whom he had added 21.
Of course, Chandimal, who has been a lion heart in the run business, will face the final challenge of closing on the 14 short of the magical three figure mark shielding the last man.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 222 (Dinesh Chandimal 76, Shaseen Shah 4/58) And 329/9 (96 Overs) (Dinesh Chandimal n.o. 86, Kusal Mendis 76, Oshada Fernando 64, Ramesh Mendis 22, Dhananjaya de Silva 20, Ramesh Mendis 20, Niroshan Dickwella 12, Maheesh Theekshana 11, Prabath Jayasuriya n.o. 4, Mohammad Nawaz 5/88, Yasir Shah 4
:3/122, Hasan Ali 1/15) (Pakistan 218 (Babar Azam 119, Prabath Jayasuriya 5/82).