The second new ball will be important: Ashwin
With the pitch showing no signs of aiding the bowlers, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is pinning his hopes on the second new ball to give India breakthroughs on the fourth day of the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Replying to India's massive first innings total of 622/9 declared, Sri Lanka were bowled out for a paltry 183 with as many as eight wickets falling in a single session.
But after the hosts were enforced a follow on, Dimuth Karunaratne (92 not out) and Kusal Mendis (110) added 191 for the second wicket, even as India could get only two wickets in the next two sessions.
"I think this wicket will get slower and slower. It is not going to be easy work tomorrow for sure. We will have to be really disciplined. I thought we gave a few runs more than ideally we should have given today. Tomorrow we can probably try and squeeze them out and try and nip a few wickets up early," said Ashwin at the press conference after the third day's play.
"Wicket is slowing down at a very quick pace. Edges aren't carrying. So that means we will have to stick our guns out and try to prise a few wickets out.
"The second new ball, therefore, becomes important. But as I said they got a great partnership but the guys coming in will have to start from scratch. There is going to be an equal challenge on both sides," he added.
Praising Karunaratne and Mendis, Ashwin said the two batted beautifully to thwart India's march towards victory
"I just think Test teams are allowed to bat well in a few sessions. They did bat well. We beat the bat pretty often even in the sessions we didn't get wickets. I thought they batted really well.
"Karunaratne really complimented Mendis, defended beautifully, and Mendis played a few extra shots that Karunaratne obviously didn't play. It came off for them.
Credit to them, they batted really, really well," he said.
The spinner, however, felt that the Indian bowlers did not do "too much wrong".
"We tried reverse swing and bowled cutters in the end.
Hardik Pandya got the wicket with a cutter. We beat the bat a few times more than we should have for the nicks we got. Hopefully we will try and nick them