Randiv spin keeps Sri Lanka in touch

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The Independent Online

Suraj Randiv took three wickets as India, chasing 257 to win, struggled to 53 for 3 at stumps on day four of the third Test against Sri Lanka.

Earlier, Thilan Samaraweera and tail-ender Ajantha Mendis shared a record 118 runs for the ninth wicket to rescue the hosts. India, chasing a win to even the three-match series at 1-1, need to score 204 runs on the final day with seven wickets in hand. The match remains finely poised with India's three main batsmen still available and Sri Lanka's spinners Randiv and Mendis threatening on a fifth-day pitch offering turn and bounce.

"It is difficult to play spin on this pitch in the morning session and if we could take three wickets the match will end by mid afternoon," Mendis said.

Offspinner Randiv had Virender Sehwag caught at slip by Mahela Jayawardene without scoring and bowled Rahul Dravid for seven runs. Murali Vijay was caught at short leg by Mahela Jayawardene for 27 runs to give Randiv his third wicket. Sachin Tendulkar reached 11 with nightwatchman Ishant Sharma on two.

Samaraweera and Mendis came to the rescue earlier with their Sri Lanka record stand after Indian spinners took six wickets for 98 runs in the morning.

The hosts resumed day four on 45 for 2 but left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha sparked a collapse when he trapped nightwatchman Randiv lbw for six before claiming the prize wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara for one run. Legspinner Amit Mishra had Angelo Mathews caught by Tendulkar and dismissed Prasanna Jayawardene lbw off successive deliveries to leave Sri Lanka at 87 for 7.

Samaraweera and Lasith Malinga resisted briefly with a 38-run stand for the eighth wicket before Sehwag trapped Malinga lbw. Samaraweera anchored the innings with a classic 83 off 139 balls including six boundaries before edging seamer Abhimanyu Mithun to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Mendis brought up his maiden Test and First-Class half-century and was last out for 78 caught by Suresh Raina off Mishra.

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