Colombo, Aug 6 (IANS) Thilan Samaraweera and Ajantha Mendis, with their unfinished century-run stand, took Sri Lanka to 225 for eight in the first innings at tea against India on the fourth day of the third and final cricket Test at the P. Sara Oval here Friday.
Samaraweera was batting on 78 and Mendis at 45 at the tea break. They rescued Sri Lanka after Indian spinners Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra reduced them to 144 for eight at lunch.
Resuming at 45 for two, Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 24 runs in the first session and slipped to 87 for seven. Sri Lanka now have a lead of 214 runs. They made 425 in the first innings and bowled out India for 436.
Left-arm spinner Ojha bagged three wickets and leg-spinner Mishra two as top-ranked India kept alive their hopes of levelling the series after losing the first Test in Galle by 10 wickets. The second Test ended in a draw.
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. Lasith Malinga (15) denied Mishra a hat-trick and added 38 runs for the eighth wicket with Samaraweera before he was trapped leg-before by Virender Sehwag.