New Delhi: Young Dhananjaya de Silva battled cramps to score a valiant hundred as Sri Lanka managed to hang on, reaching 226 for five against India on the final day of the third cricket Test here.
De Silva fought gamely to score 119 till he was forced to retire after sharing a valuable 58-run sixth-wicket stand with debutant Roshen Silva (38 batting).
Once De Silva retired, it was Niroshan Dickwella (11 batting), who gave Roshen company till the tea break.
Sri Lanka need an improbable 184 runs in the final session to win the Test match, but more importantly, need to preserve their last five wickets in order to earn a deserving draw. It is expected that De Silva may come out to bat if the situation demands.
This is the first time in six Tests this year that the islanders have managed to stretch Virat Kohli's men to the last session of a match.
De Silva's innings was the highlight of the first two sessions as he was hardly troubled by the Indian bowlers en route his third Test hundred. Towards the end, he started hobbling due to the cramps, having played 219 balls. His innings was studded with 15 boundaries and a six off Ravichandran Ashwin.
The range of his strokes was impressive as he cut and pulled with ease whenever the spinners dropped anything short. Anything pitched up was driven with disdain.
With the pitch offering little help, Ashwin (1/101 in 28 overs) didn't look as effective although he dismissed rival captain Dinesh Chandimal (36).
Jadeja (3/59 in 30 overs), who completed most of his overs within 90 seconds, bowled quick and flat with an occasional delivery turning sharply. Among the Indian quartet, he looked the most effective, keeping the batsmen pegged on the backfoot.
During the first session, Jadeja endured mixed luck with a couple of no-balls. The first one accounted for Angelo Mathews (1), with the umpires missing it altogether, while the second was a brilliant delivery to clean up Chandimal but the umpires were more cautious and promptly called him for overstepping.
First-innings centurion Mathews was dismissed when he edged one off Jadeja to the slips. But the left-arm spinner was lucky as he was not called for a no-ball even as replays showed that no part of his foot was behind the popping crease.
However, Jadeja was not so lucky when he bowled a classic left-armer's delivery that had Chandimal beaten all ends up. This time umpire Joel Wilson checked for the no-ball and the Sri Lanka captain got a reprieve.
It was a day when Feroz Shah Kotla was bathed in bright sunshine, cutting through the haze that had forced the visiting players to don anti-pollution masks till yesterday.
The pitch was as flat as it could have been, which made strokeplay easier as De Silva and Chandimal added 105 runs in 33 overs for the fifth wicket.
The morning session was a battle of attrition for the Sri Lankans, with de Silva showing positive intent going for his strokes.
The shot that brought up his third Test fifty was a copybook lofted stroke. As Ashwin flighted one, he was quick to reach to the pitch of the delivery and hit it over long-on. The 50 came off 89 balls.
Dhananjaya also played a cheeky lap shot off Ashwin while seeing off a good spell from Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma.
His footwork was decisive against both pace and spins while he left the short deliveries well. The pitch being a flat one helped the Lankans to survive.
The elusive wicket came after lunch when Ashwin castled Chandimal with an off-break, when the batsman gave him the charge.