PALLEKELE: A blazing century from all-rounder Hardik Pandya and four wickets from spinner Kuldeep Yadav left India in total command of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Kuldeep led an inspired bowling display with his left-arm wrist spin to help dismiss Sri Lanka for 135 in response to India’s 487, before the visitors enforced the follow-on in Pallekele in search of a series whitewash. The hosts were 19-1 at stumps on day two, still trailing India by 333 runs. Dimuth Karunaratne on 12 and nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara on nought were at the crease.
Paceman Umesh Yadav had opener Upul Tharanga trudging back to the pavilion for seven after the left-handed batsman dragged a delivery which was going away onto his stumps. But it was Kuldeep who flattened the Sri Lankan batting in the hosts’ first innings, returning impressive figures of 4-40 in just his second Test. He turned on the heat to rattle the middle order and combined with fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to wipe out the tail in the final session.
Off-spinner Ashwin took two wickets including the prized scalp of skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who top-scored with a gritty 87-ball 48. Pace spearhead Mohammed Shami also contributed two wickets, removing the Sri Lankan openers in the first five overs of the innings. The 23-year-old Pandya also chipped in with his pace bowling to have former captain Angelo Mathews lbw for nought.
Pandya, playing his third Test, was the star of the day with his 96-ball 108 that lifted India to a commanding first innings total after the visitors resumed on 329-6. Pandya was finally out to spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who claimed his first five-wicket Test haul, on the third ball of the second session as India’s innings ended without adding to the lunch total. India are eyeing their first-ever series sweep in Sri Lanka after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in Colombo.