From a position of ridiculous strength, India saw that grip loosening with every over that passed as Kusal Perera and Rangana Herath, with the bat, and Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep, with the ball, brought Sri Lanka back into this third Test, with a sense of déjà vu from that first match collapse swirling around a little as well for added measure.
Staring at getting bowled out for under 100 and a real chance of being asked to follow on as well, Kusal Perera, the debutant, and Herath counter-attacked in style, much like Dinesh Chandimal did in that first Test, to reduce India's lead to just 111 runs, before Prasad and Pradeep dented the away team's top order with three telling blows.
"We were 50 for 6, that means I had to take some calculated risks," said Perera. "They bowled a lot of good lines. The wicket is quite lively. There's a chance to give away your wicket, but when you bat for a bit, it also becomes decent for batsmen.
"We have to be positive, but if we are too aggressive early, you could lose a wicket, because they are bowling good lines. We have to respect the good balls and hit the loose ones, otherwise we can't put them on the back foot."
So, heading into Day 4 of this deciding Test match at the SSC in Colombo, India only have an overall lead of 132 runs, after finishing Day 3 on 21 for three. They will probably need all of those remaining seven wickets as well to set Sri Lanka a target, which the hosts will find difficult to overhaul and find it daunting enough that they might stumble and hand India a series victory.
"The match is open now, there is a big chance to win," added the Sri Lanka wicketkeeper/batsman. We've taken three wickets now. If we take two wickets in the morning, there's a chance we can win this match."
Virat he-needs-to-step-up-as-captain Kohli and Rohit you-can-never-really-rely-on-him-can-you Sharma are the crease, and India will only start to breathe again once they add another 150 runs or so. A 200-run target might seem difficult on this wicket, especially going into the final few days, where the spinners might come into play as well, but such a score also leaves the door plenty open for Sri Lanka.
As the hosts showed in that first Test match and in the batting innings of this match, they do play their best cricket when they have their backs to the wall, and what India need to do on Day 4 is calm things down, take that sting off Sri Lanka's tail and sway the match back in their favour again.
Easier said than done.
Where to Watch Live
Get the Day 5 Live Blog HERE
Get Day 4 As It Happened HERE
India vs Sri Lanka third Test match, Day 4 is set to begin at 9.45 am local time (9.45 am IST, 5.15 am BST, 12.15 am ET). The match can be watched in India live on Sony Six and Sony Kix, with the online live streaming option on Livsports.in.
Viewers in Sri Lanka and the rest of the Indian subcontinent can also catch all the Test Match action on Day 4 on Sony Six.
Audience in the US who have plans to brave the night can catch India vs Sri Lanka Live on Willow TV, while the live stream option is on Willow TV Online.