India were reduced to 21/3 late on the third day of the final Test against Sri Lanka but Sunil Gavaskar still felt the visitors were in contention to win the match thanks to their substantial first innings lead. Thanks to Ishant Sharma’s seventh five-for, India managed a 111-run lead before the Lankan pacers removed Cheteshwar Pujara, Lokesh Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane.(Day 3 Report)
With an overall lead of 132 and two days left, Gavaskar said India were outright favourites provided rain did not play truant.(Scorecard)
“India are in a reasonably good position despite the three wickets they lost because of the lead they took. It is going to be very very handy. The weather is going to be a big factor but if it holds up, I think India will win,” Gavaskar told NDTV on Sunday.(Highlights)
The onus to set up a challenging target now lies on skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the two overnight batsmen. It won’t be easy with the ball still moving and the pacers getting plenty of assistance.
“It will be a test of their skills and temperament – if they can give the first 40 to 45 minutes (on Monday morning) to the bowlers then the next few hours can be theirs,” said Gavaskar, who felt another 125 runs to their lead could make things very difficult for the Sri Lankans.
Gavaskar again stressed on the need for Kohli to bat at the crucial No.3 position and said the captain must lead from the front.
” I have been saying this but it really is up to Kohli and the team-management. I wouldn’t have said this had Kohli not batted at No. 3 in ODIs. Yes Rahane got a hundred but when the ball is doing so much, Kohli should bat up the order.”
Gavaskar was also impressed with Ishant’s spell of fast bowling and credited the lanky pacer for his immaculate line and length. However, the former opening batsman felt his heated exchanges with Rangana Herath could be costly if the match referee found him guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct. Ishant had been fined 65 per cent of his match-fee after an altercation with a Sri Lankan batsman in the second Test last week.