Dog stops play, Mathews flourishes
It is common to have dogs running onto Sri Lanka's grounds, but play being stopped twice in an innings due to dog poop has to be rare even here. In the 20th over of the Sri Lanka innings, a dog scampered onto the field and answered nature's call around fine short third man. There was no activity for moments after that apart from some drinks being rushed on. Finally, someone ran in to clean up with a shovel in hand even as the crowd roared. The 48th over brought another canine invasion. This time the crowd roared in anticipation of what could happen, and erupted as soon as the dog did its stuff around deep extra cover. More noise and horn-blowing greeted the arrival of the man with the shovel.
The scoreboard registered 'Tillakaratne Dilshan b Zaheer Khan', which will never show how unfortunate the batsman was. Dilshan defended a length ball off the front foot, and trotted out looking for a single, not sure where the ball was. Little did he know it had bounced lazily a couple of times behind him and hit the stumps. Even Zaheer did not know how to celebrate; he just raised his arms and smiled at the bonus.
Dinesh Chandimal was struck on the pads for the three balls that he lasted. Twice he escaped, but the third time, he couldn't. The first delivery, by Zaheer Khan, pitched outside leg stump. The second time, Irfan Pathan's delivery was just missing leg stump, The third time, Irfan rapped him plumb in front.
Angelo Mathews punished India's bowlers at the death. Even Zaheer Khan, who was tight throughout the day, wasn't spared. In the 48th over, his last, Zaheer speared one in full from round the wicket, trying to cramp Mathews for room. There was point, fine backward point and short third man. Mathews skipped to the leg side, opened the face of the bat, split the gap between backward point and short third man and acknowledged the boundary with a pump of the fist.
The cheek and the retort
In the same Zaheer over, Jeevan Mendis, who had been batting productively, tried a reverse-pull and missed. Now Zaheer may have lost some yards in pace over the years, but the attempted reverse-pull brought out the fast bowler's ego. Zaheer walked slowly towards Mendis, and told him what he thought of the idea. Mendis smiled. Zaheer tried to slip in a yorker next ball, but Mendis took a single off the low full toss to mid-off. As Mendis reached the other end, this time Zaheer had a smile on, with a few more words.
The dismissal-III/The anti-climax
Despite his recent lack of runs, Rohit Sharma is batting the best in the nets among all of us, Gautam Gambhir said before the game. Manoj Tiwary has been sitting out after a match-winning century in December 2011, the critics said. Dropping Rohit will undermine his confidence, Gambhir said. What about Tiwary's confidence, the critics asked? With so much being said for and against Rohit and Tiwary in the build-up to the game, and Rohit being persisted with again, it was natural his performance with the bat would be closely watched. He lasted one ball, caught in front by a searing Lasith Malinga yorker. Tiwary had been bowled for two by a Brett Lee yorker on his India debut in 2008 and had to wait for more than three years for another chance. Whatever you do, don't bet on the same happening to Rohit.
India had lost centurion Gautam Gambhir three overs earlier. In the 43rd, they needed 65 off 44 with five wickets remaining when Suresh Raina smashed Mathews in the air to extra cover. Sachithra Senanayake, substituting for the injured Kumar Sangakkara, moved to his right but could not hold on. He'd dropped the match there. Raina went on to lead India to victory with an unbeaten 65 off 45.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo