The pitch, somewhat on the slower side, will be in sharp focus over the next two days as India seek to build on their overall lead of 157 and set Sri Lanka a tough fourth-innings chase.
Sharma, who made nine and four at Galle, hit timely form as he pounded Prasad for a six and four in the first over with the second new ball that was taken as soon as it was due after 80 overs.
The track which has already shown signs of wear and tear with the spinners getting enough turn to make batting hard on the final two days. It was a lot of fun to bat with both of them. Ashwin and Ishant continued in tandem, desperately looking for a breakthrough and preserve a bit of India’s first-innings lead. First he got rid of Thirimanne, caught behind off a fuller delivery. He edged one to the wicket-keeper but he survived thanks to some doubt over whether the catch carried to Dinesh Chandimal.
Rahane (28) and Vijay (39) are at the crease. When they returned the sun was out as Mathews looked to push on towards a well-deserved century. India’s most reliable bowler, Ashwin produced the all important breakthrough immediately after tea. Earlier, Mathews and Thirimanne buttressed Sri Lanka’s progress and played out the first session without losing any wicket.
India were 321 for seven at that point after 90 overs. But the Indians failed to capitalise on the opportunities and scored very slowly. India desperately need to break the partnership. Mishra then returned later on to trouble the lower-order batsmen. After Rahul’s dismissal, with the likes of Binny and Saha, Rohit bludgeoned his innings.
Silva got to his ninth fifty in Tests in the 36th over taking Sri Lanka to 104 for two.
Mishra returned figures of 4-43 while Ishant (2-68), off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (2-76), Stuart Binny (1-44) and Umesh Yadav (1-67) were also among the wickets.
Resuming on their overnight score of 140, Sri Lanka added another 166 runs, riding on skipper Angelo Mathews chivalrous 102. Ishant got Thirimanne’s edge of a good length ball nipping in but played with soft hands, it fell short of the slip fielder.
Sharma was leg-before to Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews off what became the last ball of the day, leaving Wriddhiman Saha unbeaten on 19.
They made three changes in their line-up: in-form batsman Shikar Dhawan is out of the series with an injury and was replaced by Vijay.