Colombo, Aug 6 (IANS) With seven wickets in hand, Indian batsmen have a tough challenge of saving the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka as, chasing a victory target of 257, they were struggling at 53 for three in their second innings at close of play on the fourth day of the match here Friday.
Off-spinner Suraj Randiv picked up all the three wickets, Murali Vijay (27), Virender Sehwag (0) and Rahul Dravid (7), as India now need 204 runs to win the Test and level the series at the P. Sara Oval. India were bowled out for 436 runs in the first innings after Sri Lanka made 425 in their first essay.
India's hope are now on Sachin Tendulkar, who was batting on 11, with nightwatchman Ishant Sharma (2).
Randiv, who opened the new ball attack with fast bowler Lasith Malinga, gave Sri lanka the breakthrough in the second over when he had Sehwag caught in the slips for a duck and then Dravid off the inside edge.
Randiv then dismissed opener Vijay to a disputed catch at short-leg taken by Mahela Jayawardene, which was referred to the television umpire.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 267 in their second innings shortly after the tea break with an amazing 118-run stand for the ninth wicket between Thilan Samaraweera (83) and Ajantha Mendis (78).
India's spinners Pragyan Ojha (3/89), Amit Mishra (3/47) and Sehwag (3/51) triggered a collapse in first session as Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 24 runs and were reduced to 87 for seven in an hour's play.
But the last three Sri Lankan batsmen frustrated the Indians as Samaraweera backed up his first innings century with a valiant 83.
Ojha provided the first breakthrough after he trapped nightwatchman Suraj Randiv (6) leg-before, on a delivery after wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni dropped a simple catch.
Ojha then removed Mahela Jayawardene (5) and skipper Kumar Sangakkara (28) in successive overs as Sri Lanka were reduced to 78 for five.
Jayawardene edged to Rahul Dravid in the slips while Sangakkara departed after his pull short was lapped up by Suresh Raina at square-leg.
Mishra then picked up Angelo Matthews (5) and Prasanna Jayawardene in successive deliveries to reduce the hosts to 87 for seven. Malinga (15) denied Mishra a hat-trick and added 38 runs for the eighth wicket with Samaraweera before he was trapped leg-before by Sehwag.
Samaraweera departed in his attempt to pull a short ball from Abhimanyu Mithun and Indian captain Mahendra Dhoni took a catch behind the stumps.
Mendis, who hit 10 boundaries and a six in his maiden half-century, was caught in the covers off Amit Mishra.
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