Sri Lanka Twist the Knife
Sri Lanka claimed an iron grip on the 3rd test with another counter-attacking batting performance on Day 4 in Colombo. Sitting on 8-312 and with an overall lead of 288 runs Sri Lanka are in a position of real authority. KS Silva salvaged a wretched series with a magnificent 115, anchoring the home sides innings from number 3. He was ably supported by handy 20s, 30s and 40s from his compatriots as Sri Lanka strangled Australia with constant partnerships. Now in a position to attack with close in fielders on Day 5 Ragana Herath and co will be salivating at the thought of claiming a memorable series clean sweep. Australia might have felt lily livered at the prospect of chasing down over 200 on the final day, let alone 300 on a pitch showing noticeable signs of wear and tear. The hosts again found themselves teetering at 4/98 however picked themselves up off the canvas and had just about nailed Australia to the floor by stumps. Steve Smith failed to turn to his all rounders in a bizarre move which saw Mitchell Marsh and Moses Henriques bowl just 5 overs between them on Day 4. Nathan Lyon was game as ever picking by 4/123 from 37 overs of graft whilst John Holland toiled away claiming 2/72 from 20 overs. It was another tough day for Australia and they will wake up in the morning staring down the barrel of a series clean sweep.
Sri Lanka Find Another Unlikely Hero
Sri Lanka had a lot of unknown quantities heading into this series. However just when they have seemed down and out at times with their batting someone has popped up to play the innings of their life. Mendis, De Silva, Chandimal and Now KS Silva have managed centuries of high class now throughout this strangely gripping series. The retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene had left gaping holes in their batting strength and depth. At times Sri Lanka's batting have looked exposed and over whelmed in all 3 tests being under pressure at various points of each innings. However despite picking a side full of players with modest test records and experience they have showed that their talent outweighs their record. This time it was Kaushal Silva's chance to shine as he played a majestic innings coming in at number 3 ending with 115 from 269 balls faced. Silva remarkably had managed just 18 runs in his 5 innings in the series at the poultry average of 3.6. Here he showed remarkable courage and fortitude to come back from a dismal series return and a fielding injury on Day 3. Silva had split the webbing in his hand and required 6 stitches. Against an Australia side known for chipping at batsman when that are down and out there is no doubt Silva's head would have been spinning as he approached this innings. It was Silva's 3rd test century and the way he celebrated it suggested it was the most important of his career to date.
Australia's Approach will be Interesting.
Do you stick or do you twist? What is the question facing Australia's beleaguered batting line up heading into another acid test on Day 5 in Colombo. A win seems very unlikely, a draw would be face saving while a loss would be highly deflating. The likes of David Warner have been hell bent on attacking with intent from the get go in Sri Lanka and it will be interesting to see how he approaches this Day 5 run chase. It's a very fine line for a batsman sometimes. If you attack and come up trumps you can puff your chest out and say you took the game to the opposition, stuck to you guns and put the opponents on the back foot. If you attack and are out cheaply, your assured of being labelled anywhere from carless to reckless to giving your wicket away. Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith undoubtably showed the rest the way with their sensible and classy innings at the first time of asking. rather then having any pre convicted plans , both players looked to have pretty simple game plans. Put away the bad ball, occupy the crease and rotate the strike. It's easy to say but a lot harder to do on a turning track against a ravenous opponent. The likes of Adam Voges, Neville Warner and Henriques are coming off first innings failures and will want to put a score on the board to put in front of the selectors before India.