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Friday, July 25, 2008

Sri Lanka in command after India's batsmen flop show!!

India were staring at a possible follow-on after their famed batting line-up collapsed against Muthiah Muralitharan. The spin wizard's sensational four-wicket haul put Sri Lanka firmly in command at the end of Day 3 in the first Test, in Colombo, on Friday.

Weighed down by Sri Lanka's mammoth first innings total of 600 for 6, India found themselves in total disarray because of spineless batting that left them gasping at a precarious 159 for 6 when play was called off a little early because of bad light.
The visitors still need 242 runs to avoid the ignominy of a follow-on and will have to bat out of their skins to save the game at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground, where the track has started showing signs of a gradual deterioration.

The seasoned V V S Laxman (19) and captain Anil Kumble (1) were at the crease at stumps.
With Virender Sehwag (25), Gautam Gambhir (39), Rahul Dravid (14), Sachin Tendulkar (27), Sourav Ganguly (23) and Dinesh Karthik (9) back in the pavilion, much will depend on the experienced Laxman to get India, still 441 runs behind, out of the woods.

Muralitharan accounted for four of those wickets -- Gambhir, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Karthik -- conceding 38 runs, while 'mystery' bowler Ajantha Mendis produced a gem of a delivery to get rid of Dravid..
Earlier in the day, Tillakaratne Dilshan (125 not out) became the fourth player to hit a century in Sri Lanaka's first innings.

It turned out to be another agonising day for the visitors who first allowed the hosts to pile up an imposing total and then lacked application while batting.
The 23-year-old Mendis, who created a flutter with his exploits in the Asia Cup, continued to bamboozle the Indian batsmen with his variations.
The Sri Lankans declared their first innings 40 minutes into the second session and the two Indian openers, Sehwag and Gambhir, got off to a flying start. However, their belligerence was shortlived.

Sehwag made his intentions clear as he slammed paceman Chaminda Vaas to the cover boundary in the first over. Gambhir followed it with a flowing drive to the long-off boundary off Nuwan Kulasekara in the next.
Jayawardene chose to set an attacking field to put the Indian batsmen under pressure after tiring them out on the field for over two-and-a-half days.
Taking advantage of unmanned boundaries, Sehwag went on to hammer Vaas for two consecutive fours, one through mid-on and then point.

But Nuwan Kulasekara provided the breakthrough for the islanders by getting rid of Sehwag, whose pulled shot went straight to Samaraweera in the square leg region.
Muralitharan then consolidated the position, dismissing Gambhir, while Mendis foxed Dravid with a vicious delivery to dislodge his off-stump. The Indians were reduced to a precarious 79 for 3. Tendulkar and Ganguly tried to rebuild the innings before Murali again struck by scalping the prized wicket of Tendulkar, who looked quite comfortable during his brief stay at the crease.
Ganguly was the next to return to the pavilion, he too falling prey to Muralitharan, Kulasekara taking a well-judged catch.

Tottering at 138 for five, Dinesh Karthik, who dropped two catches during the Sri Lankan innings, played an irresponsible shot and became Murali's fourth victim.
Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 422 for four, the hosts continued to pile up the misery and Dilshan notched his fifth Test ton.
India scalped two wickets in an otherwise frustrating opening session, one of them being centurion Thilan Samaraweera (127), who handed a straight forward catch to Laxman at second slip off Zaheer Khan .

Wicketkeeper Prasana Jayawardene was the next to go, trying to smack Harbhajan but holing out to Ishant Sharma at extra cover. He scored 30 runs.
India could have got Dilshan early on when the right-hander failed to keep the ball down and it went past a diving Laxman in second slip.
But for that, the 32-year-old was always well in command en route to his century.

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