Dominant India close in on win

Hosts strike early to leave Lanka at 31/3 after setting a 410-run target

Dominant India close in on win

Under grey skies and persistent haze, a beleaguered Sri Lanka faced the imminent. A relentless Indian domination haunted them like the smog and presented the visitors with the herculean task of saving the third and last Test.

The air quality level at various locations in Delhi was rated "hazardous" in the morning and floodlights were lit at the start of the day's play to enhance visibility. Sri Lanka's overnight pair of Dinesh Chandimal, who scored a career-best 164, and Lakshan Sandakan lasted 5.3 overs before Ishant Sharma dismissed the Sri Lanka captain to stop the visitors' first innings at 373.

India batted for nearly two sessions to add to their lead of 163 before declaring at 246/5 and setting Sri Lanka a target of 410 runs. Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami zipped and nipped the new ball in fading light. Shami, however, looked unwell, vomited and left the field after bowling three overs during which he accounted for opener Sadeera Samrawickrama with a short ball. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja furthered the Indian cause by claiming two quick wickets.

By the time bad light stopped play, Sri Lanka were tottering at 31/3, with Jadeja removing opener Dimuth Karunaratne and night watchman Suranga Lakmal. First innings centurion Angelo Mathews (0) held the reins with Dhananjaya De Silva (13), with a deficit of 379 runs looming large on them.

Masked cricketers

The smog stricken Sri Lankans reprised the scenes of Sunday when they took the field wearing masks. The alarming pollution levels that day had led to three interruptions and left several Sri Lankan players unwell. Still, the "masked" cricketers composed an unusual sight on cricket field.

Things threatened to go the same way this morning when Lakmal vomited on field. He returned to bowl, however. Focus swiftly shifted to cricket and India, looking to build on their first innings lead, lost Murali Vijay early. The opener, who had hit a century in the first innings, went for an expansive drive and edged Lakmal to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.

An out of form Ajinkya Rahane, promoted ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara bided an uncomfortable time, before impulse took over. He stepped out to hit off-spinner Dilruwan Perera only to perish at long-on.

All along birthday boy Shikhar Dhawan constructed an unusually slow innings and offering a rare paradox, Pujara chose to step on the gas. The middle-order batsman lit up the gloomy weather with his fluent shots to the fence and drove India towards a challenging total. It was unfortunate he missed out on his half-century by a run when he nicked Perera- the ball turned away and Angelo Mathews took an excellent low catch at slip.

With Kohli joining him, Dhawan sustained his start and reached his half-century by lofting a straight six. He departed shortly when he was beaten by the turn of left-arm wrist spinner Sandakan and Dickewella swiftly whipped off the bails.

Kohli and Rohit Sharma kept the scorecard ticking along. Kohli made 50 off 58 balls before he fell to Lahiru Gamage. He waited for Rohit to reach his 50 and once it was done, he declared the Indian innings.

It was too big a target for Sri Lanka to chase. A Sri Lankan fightback, like Monday, might spice up the things, but so far it is India smiling all the way.

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