A humiliating innings defeat was staring the Indians in the face on the fourth day of the third Test against Sri Lanka today as they suffered yet another middle order collapse to be struggling at 217 for six in their second innings at stumps.
India require another 159 runs to make Sri Lanka, who had declared their first innings at 610 for six in response to the visitors' 234, bat again with just four wickets standing.
India lost their way in the final session of play losing four wickets after batting determinedly in the morning and afternoon to reach 169 for two at tea.
Openers Shiv Sunder Das and Sadgopan Ramesh gave India another good start raising 107 runs for the first wicket and skipper Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid seemed to be capitalising on the good foundation when everything went wrong for the Indians.
Two unnecessary run outs, those of Dravid and Mohammad Kaif, in quick succession and the soft dismissals of Ganguly and Sairaj Bahutule meant India had slumped to 211 for six half an hour before the end of the day's play.
Hemang Badani and Sameer Dighe were hardly convincing as they battled in a losing cause. Badani was batting on eight and Dighe on four when the stumps were drawn for the day.
Muthiah Muralitharan scalped two wickets to take his match haul to ten while Tilan Samaraweera took his maiden Test wicket after scoring a century yesterday.
After braving the pressure for most of the day, it seemed the Indians would be able to make a match of it. India lost one wicket each in the first two sessions and Ganguly and Dravid were going along nicely when disaster struck.
Dravid drove the ball to mid-on and took off for a quick single but Marvan Atapattu's direct hit found him inches short of the non-striker's end, India losing their third wicket at 186. Dravid made 36 off 124 balls, hitting four fours.
New man Kaif was involved in a mix-up with Ganguly and he too was run out for five. A few overs later Ganguly, stretched out to play a widish delivery from Samaraweera. The ball took the outside edge and went low to Mahela Jayawardene at first slip to virtually end all Indian hopes. Ganguly had batted for 148 minutes and faced 103 balls for his 30 runs.
Bahutule was out in a bizzare fashion when he offered his pads to a Sanath Jayasuriya delivery. The ball bounced more than expected, struck the arm guards of the batsmen and went into the stumps. Bahutule had not even opened his account.
After that, Badani and Dighe were only interested in playing out the day and used their pads more often than their bats. The last half an hour produced barely ten runs.