On the morning session of Day 3 (Saturday, August 5) in Colombo, spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were on top of their games, making Sri Lanka batsmen look like amateur cricketers. After resuming the day on 50/2, the hosts lost eight wickets for just 133 runs and were eventually bowled out for 183, conceding a mammoth 439-run lead.
Virat Kohli had no second thoughts, unlike the Galle Test, while enforcing a follow-on. A day after an inebriated cricket fan shouted out suggestions to Sri Lanka batsmen on how to tackle the visitors' bowlers and less than a week after their crushing 304-run loss, it looked like Sri Lanka cricket was going further downhill.
When Upul Tharanga was dismissed for just two as early as in the third over, India were well on their way to another commanding win and eventually a series win. However, Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne seemed to have other ideas.
Jadeja and Ashwin, who had shared seven wickets between them in the first innings, continued hitting the right lengths and lines. But Mendis and Karunaratne took a cue from Niroshan Dickwella's quick fire first-innings' knock of 51 and began counterattacking the Indian bowlers.
Mendis, 22, who is among the most talented cricketers in the current Sri Lankan set-up, made sure he did not allow the spinners to settle. He used his feet to come down the track, played sweeps efficiently to bring up his half-century in just 52 balls.
At the other end, Karunaratne was playing second fiddle to Mendis, but did not let the run-rate dip. The left-hander ended the day unbeaten on 92 as his partner perished just after getting to his third Test century (110).
It was Hardik Pandya, who gave Kohli's team the much-needed breakthrough, snapping a solid 191-run stand towards the end of the day.
At the end of the third day's play, Sri Lanka still trailed the visitors by 230 runs. However, they have injected life into the series, which had been boringly one-sided until Saturday.
Having lost their premier and most effective fast bowler, Nuwan Pradeep, to a hamstring injury, Sri Lanka will be well served if Karunaratne carries on. With experienced campaigners Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal in the line-up, the visitors have a good chance to make India bat again, if not clinch a memorable comeback-from-behind win.
On the other hand, Indian bowlers, who lost their rhythm due to Karunaratne-Mendis stand and the humidity in Colombo, will be looking to make the most of the morning session on Sunday, August 6.
Ashwin and Jadeja have enough time and an early wicket in the morning might trigger another Sri Lankan collapse. But for now, Ravi Shastri and Kohli have been made to think different.