India really needed to win the toss in Colombo for the Third and final Test of their current series in Sri Lanka. Batting first would have given them a chance to control the Test and shape it for the victory they need to level the series.
To date, Sri Lanka's batting has been too strong for the Indian bowling bowling and so it proved again today and much of the superiority Sri Lanka have gained must fall to the inexperience of the "new" Indian attack. Things got worse before the toss when Harbhajan Singh was ruled out of the match. If you exclude the widely experienced Ishant Sharma and the massively part time Sehwag, the rest of the attack has only 16 Tests between them. The Sri Lankan batsmen have been around long enough to be considered seasoned pros, with Sangakkara arguably the best No 3 in Test cricket.
That's not to say that the fifty odd overs Mishra and Ohja shared were unproductive or lacked potency because that is far from the truth. In fact, only Thilan Samaraweera was completely at home on a pitch that turned and occasionally jumped. Sangakkara and Dilshan both had periods of uncertainty but the key issue is that their experience saw them through and Sri Lanka established a firm base upon which to drive the final nail into India's coffin.
Early on, Sharma was all fire and superb length and it was one such ball which enticed Paranavitana into the three card trick of driving at a good length ball that was just too far from his body and going further away from his outside edge to the safe hands of the Indian skipper Dhoni behind the stumps. Sangakkara and Dilshan then took two hours over an 87 run second wicket partnership during which Dilshan showed remarkable restraint, leaving almost everything Sharma and Mithun served up outside off stump. After all that circumspection, to be runout with the smell of the lunchtime curry in his nostrils as Vijay threw accurately to Dhoni from point was a poor outcome for such hard work. Meanwhile, Sangakkara launched an assault on Mishra, driving, sweeping fours and lofting a six over long on but reduced his strokeplay to a less expansive game after he was dropped at third slip by Raina. The suggestion was that Laxman at 2nd slip obstructed him but the best players must be snaffled when they offer their few chances.
After lunch Mahela Jayawardene was in Bob the Builder mode and losing Sangakkara changed nothing. He had his head down to combat the spinners and even though Ohja had bowled a long and trying spell at him, Jayawardene was unlucky to be given out lbw to a ball which even to the naked eye, on one viewing, looked to be clearing the castle. His three hour innings was short on the flashing cuts and drives which are his trademark but this innings was about defending a series lead. The former skipper found a willing accomplice in Samaraweera who never at any stage of his innings looked troubled by the Indian bowlers.
A score over 400 looks almost inevitable and if the Sri Lankan run train continues down the track, this time Samaraweera will be it's Casey Jones. He and Angelo Matthews have already raised a fifty partnership in just 80 deliveries - fast in the context of this day's play. Matthews gets a great chance for a breakthough score here which will lift him beyond the status of beginner and establish his spot in the side.
For India, it's almost too late.