COLOMBO // After putting the Sri Lanka bowling to the sword with his pyrotechnical batting, Virender Sehwag then teased and tempted their batsman with his increasingly dangerous off-spin to leave the third Test match delicately poised going into the fourth day today. Unbeaten overnight on 97, Sehwag brought up his 21st Test century early in yesterday's play but he fell soon after, for 109, after lobbing an easy catch to Chanaka Welegedara at mid-off off the bowling of Suraj Randiv.
India ended their first innings on 436 -11 runs ahead of the hosts - and will now have high hopes of forcing victory after Sehwag snared the wickets of both Sri Lanka openers, including the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan, to leave the home side on 45 for two, just 34 runs ahead with eight wickets remaining. "I am very lucky to score a 100 and take two wickets," Sehwag said. "So hopefully we'll do the job and try to win this Test match."
It was also a special day for Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga who claimed his 100th Test wicket by removing the great Sachin Tendulkar, playing a world record 169th Test, for 41. Malinga becomes only the third Sri Lankan player to reach the milestone, joining Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Chaminda Vaas (355), his illustrious former teammates. "We have lost two wickets on this pitch but our batsmen are capable of scoring on difficult pitches, and if we play well and get a good score we can put pressure on the Indians," said the right-arm paceman who is playing his first Test series after a two-year lay-off through injury. "I think this will become an interesting match on the final day."
With Tharanga Paranavitana and Dilshan out, Sri Lanka will be relying on another big innings today from Kumar Sangakkara to secure a series victory. Sangakkara will resume 12 not out after becoming the fastest to reach 8,000 runs in his 91st Test. * Agencies