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Thursday, August 28, 2008

India beat Sri Lanka by 46 runs, pocket ODI series 3-1

A spirited India on Wednesday night recorded their first-ever bilateral ODI series triumph against Sri Lanka in their backyard as they spanked the hosts by 46 runs in the fourth cricket one-dayer in Colombo on Wednesday to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
After putting a competitive target of 259 before the Lankans, Indian bowlers skittled out the hosts for 212 in 46.3 overs.
With this win India pocketed the five-match series with one match to spare which is scheduled for Friday and avenged their Test series drubbing.
The Indian bowlers had their task cut out right from the word go as comebackman Munaf Patel (2/48) once again impressed with the new ball, scalping the first two wickets. Malinda Warnapura (0) was the first man to go without scoring after he was caught in front of the wicket by Munaf. However, TV replays showed the ball might have gone over the stumps.
Out-of-form Kumar Sangakkara (6), dropped to the No 3 position following his woeful run in the tournament, failed once again as he played on a Munaf delivery.
However, veteran Sanath Jayasuriya (60 of 52 balls) was at his explosive best and with skipper Mahela Jayawardene (16) he put up a crucial 74-run stand for the fourth wicket to steady the Lankan innings.
Jayasuriya's dominance can be gauged from the fact that in the 74-run partnership, Jayawardene contributed only six runs.
However, an important bowling change by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the 17th over, bringing in offie Harbhajan Singh (3 for 40) in place of Praveen Kumar, saw Jayasuriya's downfall.
In the third ball of his first over, Harbhajan picked up the crucial wicket of Jayasuriya after the Lankan edged a turner and Suresh Raina made no mistake in the first slip and reacted sharply to pounce on the opportunity.
The Lankans received yet another blow when the in-form Jayawrdene was caught short off the crease by Virat Kohli following a terrible mix up with Chamara Kapugedera (30) to leave the hosts reeling at 106 for 4 in 24.3 overs.
Most of the Lankan middle-order batsmen got a start but failed to capitalise on that and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
Next to go was Tillekeratne Dilshan (12), who was wrapped on the pads by Harbhajan in his seventh over which brought an end to his 25-run stand with Kapugedera, thereby exposing the Lankan tail.
Four overs later, Kapugedera followed suit after he was caught in front of the wicket by Yuvraj (2 for 53).
The Indian vice-captain made up for his batting failure with the ball as Vaas became his second victim. The Lankan pacer feel lbw to Yuvraj.
Thilan Thushara, soon after his arrival, tried to turn the fortunes for the Lankans with his big hitting. He clubbed Yuvraj for two consecutive sixes in the 38th over and made a quickfire 40 off 29 balls and was the last man to depart, caught by Raina off Zaheer Khan (1 for 27).
Dhoni's bowling changes seemed to work wonders for the visitors, as after being brought back into the attack, Harbhajan lured Nuwan with a doosra, only to see the Indian skipper completing an easy stumping.
Earlier, skipper Dhoni (71), Raina (76) and Kohli (54) struck half centuries before India got all out for 258 with two balls to spare.
For the hosts, Thushara took five wickets for 47 runs and India lost their last seven wickets for just 34 runs to be skittled out in 49.4 overs.
Having slumped to 81 for three, Raina and Dhoni took control of the situation and judiciously mixed cheeky singles with big shots forcing Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene to rework his strategies.
The 143-run partnership between the two took India to a position of comfort from where on the remaining batsmen only had to score at a consistent rate.
Not allowing Ajantha Mendis to get into a rhythm, Raina decided to attack the bowler as he lofted his off-break to the long-off boundary.
With the onus of responsibility once again falling on Dhoni, the Indian captain tried to settled down quickly as he forced a Thushara delivery past the cover boundary.
Raina matched Dhoni's aggression and India raced to the 150 mark in 185 balls as the two decided to unnerve the Sri Lankan bowlers.
In no time, Raina reached a well-deserved half century -- his seventh -- in 56 balls as he came down the track and lofted Muttiah Muralitharan to the extra cover boundary.
His front-foot hit over the deep-midwicket boundary for a six of Murali was a beauty.
Dhoni got to his 50 in 60 balls and it included three boundaries.
A visibly tired Raina then tried to hit Thushara over the long off and was caught by Nuwan Kulasekara, his 76 runs coming off 78 balls and including six boundaries and one six.
Dhoni, playing with a runner, followed suit, caught by Jayasuriya at covers off Thushara for a well-compiled 71 runs.
Earlier, the Indian openers looked confident and after a cautious start, Kohli steered a swinging delivery from Kulasekara through the slip for four runs to get into the groove.
Partner Gautam Gambhir (17) preferred hitting the bowlers over the fielding cordon but he perished soon, slashing Kulasekara straight into the hands of Dilshan.
India got another rude jolt as Yuvraj, who was tentative right from the beginning, became Chaminda Vaas' 400th victim before he could even opened his account.
He was smartly caught by skipper Jayawardene at short mid-wicket as Yuvraj failed to keep the ball down.
An unperturbed Kohli, however, kept going and hit Kulasekara to the mid-wicket boundary on the way to his half-century.
His maiden 50 came in 81 minutes and 62 balls and included six hits to the boundary. He, however, could not stretch it further as Thushara castled him for 54.
S Badrinath, who was required to play a cameo in the dying overs, only managed six runs before Jayawardene caught him at short mid-wicket.
India lost wickets in a heap as Harbhajan was run out for two, while Rohit Sharma was caught by Warnapura off Ajantha Mendis for 18.
Thushara went on to complete his five-wicket haul by removing Praveen Kumar and Zaheer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

'100 years on, Sir Don still the greatest'

Praising the batting style of Don Bradman, Australia's modern-day 'Mr Cricket' Mike Hussey is adamant that the legend would have been twice as good as any other batsman if he were playing today.
As Australia prepared to celebrate the centenary of The Don's birth, debate inevitably turned to how the country's greatest sportsman would have fared in the 21st-century game.
''In my view, if Don Bradman were playing today, he would still have an average twice as good as any other batsman in the world,'' Hussey said.
''He is by far the best batsman ever and would still be in today's game.''
Bradman, whose batting average of 99.94 is still celebrated, died seven years ago, but tributes and recollections have started flowing in as a nation pauses to remember.
Some amateur cricket lovers even claim to have found the missing four runs that Bradman would have needed to boast a career average of 100.
Not that the records will be changed now.
Events will be held in Australia today to commemorate the centenary of Bradman's birth - with Test skipper Ricky Ponting to deliver a speech at a gala dinner in Sydney.
''It's almost like he's separate from the game,'' Ponting said.
''His name and what he achieved, it's so far out of any player's reach, in his time or any player who has played since, it's almost like he played a different game to what we're playing.''
Another tribute came from former Pakistani batsman Zaheer Abbas, considered the Bradman of Asia.
''During my trip to play for the World Eleven against Australia in 1972-73, Don Bradman came specially to meet me at Adelaide Airport,'' Abbas said.
''I consider it the happiest moment and great honour of my life.
I have preserved this picture and shall cherish it throughout my life.''
The New South Wales townships of Cootamundra, where Bradman was born, and Bowral, where he grew up, are celebrating the Don's centenary in a big way.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Statistical highlights: India - Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI

Statistical highlights of the second One-Day International between India and Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Wednesday.
# Sri Lanka's 142 is their lowest completed innings total against India in Sri Lanka. Their previous lowest against India at home was 181 at Colombo, SSC on 1.8.2001.

# Sanath Jayasuriya established a record for appearing in most number of games (418) in ODIs, bettering Sachin Tendulkar's tally of 417.
# Zaheer Khan's excellent bowling performance (4/21) is his second best against Sri Lanka in ODIs -- his career-best of 5 for 42 is also against Sri Lanka at Margao,Goa , on February 14, 2007.
# Zaheer, for the fifth time in his ODI career, was adjudged Man of the Match.
# Zaheer became the first Indian bowler to take four wickets in an innings at Dambulla.
# After producing his career-best 5 for 42 against Sri Lanka at Margao on February 14, 2007, Zaheer produced his best bowling figures in 30 ODIs.
# Thilan Thushara (44) posted his best ever score in ODIs, bettering his 28 against Pakistan at Karachi on June 29, 2008.
# India registered their first win against Sri Lanka at Dambulla.
# India won an ODI against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka after four years. Their last win against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka was by 4 runs at Colombo, RPS, on July 27, 2004.
# Overall, India's triumph by 3 wickets is their third at Dambulla International stadium -- their first two being by 116 runs against UAE on July 16, 2004 and by 6 wickets against West Indies on July 31, 2005.
# Overall, India have won 10 ODIs against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka out of 36 played (Lost 20 and NR 6).
# Virat Kohli (37) registered his highest score in ODIs, bettering his 12 against Sri Lanka on debut at Dambulla on August 18, 2008.
# Virat became the second Indian fielder after Sourav Ganguly to take three catches in an innings against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.

India post nervy victory in second ODI

India went through several anxious moments before registering a three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a low-scoring second One-Day International in Dambulla, on Wednesday.
Pacers Zaheer Khan (4 for 21) and Praveen Kumar (3 for 24) ripped through Sri Lanka's batting to bundle them out for a paltry 142 in 38.3 overs before the Indians also recovered from a top-order slump to cruise home with 10.2 overs to spare.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39) played a pivotal role, batting cautiously to help India overhaul the target and make amends for the humiliating eight-wicket thrashing in the first one-dayer at the same venue on Monday.
Dhoni, who has now taken up the role of finisher, was bowled by Dilhara Fernando with India needing only eight runs for victory. But the small target still seemed quite daunting as the visitors lost the wicket of Harbhajan Singh before S Badrinath (27 not out) hit the winning stroke much to the delight of his teammates.
Chasing Sri Lanka's modest target, the Indians plunged into trouble straightaway and were reduced to a precarious 16 for 2 within five overs, makeshift opener Irfan Pathan (5) and Suresh Raina (1) returning to the pavilion cheaply.
The going got tough for the visitors as Virat Kohli (37), Yuvraj Singh (20) and Rohit Sharma (0) also perished in quick succession, leaving India's hopes in tatters.
Paceman Nuwan Kulasekara provided the early breakthroughs for Sri Lanka, accounting for Pathan and Raina, while Thilina Tushara also chipped in with two wickets in his first spell.
With the Indians reeling at 75 for five, captain Dhoni and S Badrinath, drafted into the team in place of an indisposed Gautam Gambhir , steadied the innings by batting sensibly on a track that provided assistance to the pace bowlers.
Dhoni was content in curbing his natural strokeplay and kept the scoreboard moving with gentle nudges and pushes. He found good support from Badrinath, who looked quite composed at the middle.
As the duo took the score closer to the victory target, Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was forced to turn to his spin trump cards, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis , to break the partnership.
The teams will now travel to Colombo, where the third match will be played at the Premadasa stadium on Sunday.
Although Dhoni and Badrinath saw the team through, the victory was far from convincing as the top order of the batting again fell apart.
Earlier, Dhoni invited the Sri Lankans to bat first, and the pace duo of Zaheer and Praveen Kumar backed his decision in fantastic fashion.
Left-arm paceman Zaheer triggered the Lankan collapse by clean bowling Kumar Sangakkara off the last ball of his first over.
Sangakkara's lazy waft without movement cost him dearly as the ball landed outside the off stump, seamed back and rattle his stumps.
Zaheer followed it up with the wickets of Jayawardene (2) and Chamara Kapugedara (0) before Praveen dismissed Chamara Silva (0).
Sri Lanka never recovered from the early blows and, to rub salt on their wounds, Zaheer scalped explosive opener Sanath Jayasuriya (13), leaving the hosts reeling at 33 for five.
Zaheer kept troubling the Lankans with good pace and a teasing line and length while Praveen tested the hosts, his swinging deliveries often inducing edges.
Runs were hard to come against such a disciplined attack and the hosts reached the 50-run mark only after 21.2 overs.
Out-of-form Irfan Pathan tasted his first success when Tillakaratne Dilshan (16) pulled a short-of-length delivery in the air. Debutant Badrinath ran as fast as his legs could carry him and held a good diving catch to make it 44 for six.
It required a special effort to reach a respectable total and a 74-run seventh-wicket partnership between Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekara helped avoid a complete rout.
Thushara hit a very useful 44, inclusive of seven boundaries, and was ably supported by Kualsekara, who scored a 25-run cameo after being dropped by Rohit Sharma at an individual score of 13.
Praveen then ended the frustration by dismissing both batsmen in the 34th over.
Harbhajan Singh then made it 122 for 9 when he had Ajantha Mendis caught and bowled for no score.
Dilhara Fernando was the last to go, caught by Kohli off Harbhajan for 12.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Sri Lanka cruise to eight-wicket win in first ODI

Sri Lanka cruised to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over India in the first one-day international on Monday.
Spinners Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan grabbed three wickets each to help dismiss India for 146 in 46 overs after the visitors had won the toss. Mendis took three for 21 and senior bowling partner Muralitharan three for 37.
India, missing in-form opening batsman Virender Sehwag due to injury, struggled from the start, with Yuvraj Singh the top-scorer with just 23.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene guided his team to their modest victory target with 15.1 overs to spare, scoring 61 from 82 balls with seven boundaries.
Jayawardene shared an unbroken 102 run third-wicket partnership with Chamara Kapugedera, who scored 45 from 72 balls with four boundaries.
The pair steadied the innings after pace bowler Munaf Patel struck two early blows, reducing Sri Lanka to 45 for two.
Sanath Jayasuriya was caught by Irfan Pathan for 10 as he charged down the pitch and Kumar Sangakkara was caught and bowled for 19.
In the morning, left-arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas struck in the first over, bowling Gautam Gambhir for a duck with a delivery that nipped back.
His new ball partner Nuwan Kulasekera trapped Virat Kohli leg before for 12. The former under-19 captain came into the side after Sehwag twisted his ankle in practice on Sunday.
Kulsekera also had Suresh Raina (17) caught at short cover by Chamara Silva, the batsman mistiming his drive on the slow-paced pitch to reduce India to 36 for three.
India hinted at a recovery with Yuvraj and Rohit Sharma (19) adding 37 for the fourth wicket but wickets tumbled once spin was introduced, with Mendis bowling Yuvraj in his first over.
Mendis also claimed the prize scalp of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (six), his counterpart Mahela Jayawardene taking a sharp catch at slip off an attempted cut.
Thilan Thushara, Sri Lanka's third seamer in a five-bowler line-up, then had Sharma caught at slip.
Muralitharan was fortunate to remove Irfan Pathan (seven), adjudged leg after playing a doosra delivery onto his pads, before he had Zaheer Khan (12) caught in the deep and dismissed Harbhajan Singh (12).
Pragyan Ohja (16 not out) and Munaf Patel (15) added 29 runs for the last wicket.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sri Lanka cruise to series win over India

Sri Lanka clinched a 2-1 series victory with an emphatic eight-wicket victory against India in the deciding third Test in Colombo on Monday.
The hosts were left chasing 122 for victory after bowling out India for 268 in their second innings and finished 123 for two after 33.1 overs.
There was an early wobble with Sri Lanka collapsing to 22 for two but Malinda Warnapura (54 not out) and Mahela Jayawardene (50 not out) then added an unbroken 101-run partnership.
India, resuming on 161 for five at the start of the day, were eventually bowled out after fighting innings from Rahul Dravid (68) and VVS Laxman (61 not out).
Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis , the man of the series, claimed three for 81 from 34 overs to complete a match haul of eight for 137 in the game.
Mendis was a revelation for Sri Lanka in his first series, breaking Englishman Alec Bedser's 24-wicket record for the most wickets in a debut series set against India in 1946.
The 23-year-old claimed 26 wickets at 18.38 during the three-match series.
Veteran off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan claimed three for 99 from 37.5 overs, extending his series tally to 21 wickets at 22.23.
In the morning, India looked set to bat out the first session without losing a wicket before two quick wickets before lunch.
Dravid scored his first half-century of the series, a patient 68 from 166 balls including six fours, before Mendis changed his angle of attack and had the right-hander caught at slip from around the wicket.
Muralitharan, also bowling around the wicket, then trapped Anil Kumble lbw for nine.
Sri Lanka could also have dismissed Laxman but they grassed two difficult chances.
Thilan Samaraweera missed a diving catch at short mid-wicket on 39 and Warnapura missed a sharp one-handed chance at short leg when Laxman was on 50.
Sri Lanka took the new ball after lunch and Chaminda Vaas broke through in his first over, trapping Harbhajan lbw with an inswinger.
The innings then ended quickly as Samaraweera ran out Khan with a direct hit and Sharma was brilliantly caught at backward short leg.
Sri Lanka's run chase started badly with opener Michael Vandort (eight) cleaned bowled by off spinner Harbhajan.
India were forced to open the bowling with Harbhajan because of a leg injury sustained by Ishant Sharma on Saturday.
Left-armer Khan then grabbed the scalp of Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's first innings centurion, as the left-hander mistimed a drive straight to mid off.
Jayawardene and Warnapura reached tea on 45 for two and after the interval the third-wicket pair hunted down the target aggressively in front of the largest crowd of the game.
Warnapura cracked five boundaries in his 99-ball unbeaten 54 and Jayawardene stroked three fours in his 50 from 85 balls.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mendis shines as India's top order fails

Spinner Ajantha Mendis claimed 5-56 to help Sri Lanka bowl India out for 249 on the first day of the third Test on Friday.
India hit back with an early wicket, as Ishant Sharma bowled Malinda Warnapura (eight), before Sri Lanka closed on 14 for one with Michael Vandort on three and nightwatchman Chaminda Vaas on nought.
The unorthodox Mendis extended his wicket tally in his first series to 23 as India failed to take any advantage from winning the toss on a good batting pitch.
However, the early damage was done by debutant pace bowler Dammika Prasad, who recovered from a nervous start with the new ball to dismiss Virender Sehwag (21), Rahul Dravid (10) and Sachin Tendulkar (six) in the first session.
Opener Gautam Gambhir continued his good form from the second Test in Galle, which India won by 170 runs to level the series, to score 72 from 128 balls with 10 boundaries.
India were given a flying start with Sehwag and Gambhir plundering boundaries off some wayward bowling from Prasad and Chaminda Vaas, adding 51 in seven overs.
Sri Lanka's fielders also missed early opportunities with Malinda Warnapura dropping Sehwag on 14 at short square leg following a Vaas bouncer.
Tillakaratne Dilshan , fielding at point, missed a run out chance a few minutes later when Sehwag backed up too far.
Sri Lanka finally broke through when Prasad found the outside edge of Sehwag's bat with an outswinger.
Prasad, who was rested briefly, returned to bag two more wickets before lunch.
Dravid, initially given not out, was trapped lbw by an inswinger after Mahela Jayawardene called for an umpiring review.
Tendulkar was also given out lbw to an inswinging delivery, a decision against which he appealed unsuccessfully with television replays showing the ball missed the bat.
After lunch, Gambhir and Saurav Ganguly (35) extended their partnership to 49 before Muralitharan had Ganguly caught at slip by Mahela Jayawardene.
Minutes later Sri Lanka won their second review of the day, winning an lbw decision against Gambhir after television replays indicated the ball hit pad before bat.
Laxman and Parthiv Patel battled hard as the run rate slowed, adding 35 runs for the sixth wicket, before Laxman was stumped three balls before tea.
After the break Mendis made quick inroads into the lower order, trapping Patel lbw for 13 and bowling Anil Kumble for one.
When Harbhajan Singh (three) was caught in the deep trying to slog Muralitharan, India were reeling on 198 for nine.
Fortunately for the tourists, Zaheer Khan (32) and Ishant Sharma (17 not out) made the total more respectable with a 51-run last wicket stand before Mendis claimed his fifth wicket.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tendulkar, Zaheer back in ODI squad

Sachin Tendulkar , Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have made a comeback to the Indian ODI squads for the five-match series against Sri Lanka and forthcoming 2008 ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan.
Young pace sensation Ishant Sharma was rested for the one-dayers in Sri Lanka, but made it to the 15-member Champions Trophy squad at the expense of fellow-pacer Munaf Patel .
Under-19 World Cup-winning captain Virat Kohli was the surprise inclusion in both squads. The 19-year-old Delhi batsman was one of the top performers for India in the Emerging Players' Tournament in Australia last month, scoring 204 runs in five matches at an average of 51.
Indian Premier League's top performers Yusuf Pathan and Piyush Chawla also failed to make the cut for both the tournaments. Yusuf played seven matches in the tri-series in Pakistan and Asia Cup, but failed to make an impression.
Tendulkar was forced to miss the tri-series in Bangladesh and Asia Cup after failing to recover fully from a groin injury.
Zaheer last played in an ODI match in November, against Pakistan, after which he was troubled by a spate of injuries.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will return to captain the side. The wicketkeeper-batsman opted out of the ongoing three-Test series in Sri Lanka, citing fatigue due to constant cricket.
As expected, the senior batting duo of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were again kept out after lacklustre batting displays in the ongoing Test series in Sri Lanka.
The five-match ODI series in Sri Lanka begins in Dambulla on August 18.
The 2008 ICC Champions Trophy, in Pakistan, will be played between September 11 and 28.

Sri Lanka ODIsChampions Trophy
M S Dhoni (captain)M S Dhoni (captain)
Yuvraj Singh Yuvraj Singh
Virender Sehwag Virender Sehwag
Gautam Gambhir Gautam Gambhir
Sachin TendulkarSachin Tendulkar
Suresh RainaSuresh Raina
Rohit SharmaRohit Sharma
Harbhajan SinghHarbhajan Singh
Pragyan OjhaPragyan Ojha
Zaheer KhanZaheer Khan
RP SinghRP Singh
Praveen KumarPraveen Kumar
Irfan Pathan Irfan Pathan
Virat KohliIshant Sharma
Munaf PatelVirat Kohli
Parthiv patel


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Coach Kirsten unavailable for third Test

The Indian team will go into the third Test against Sri in Colombo without coach Gary Kirsten.
The former South Africa batsman has been granted leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to attend to his mother, who is critically ill.
'Gary Kirsten, coach, Indian Team has been granted leave to go to South Africa to be with his mother,' the BCCI said in a statement on Tuesday.
'Kirsten will not be available for the third Test Match as he will be leaving from Colombo for South Africa tonight. There will not be any replacement in his absence.'
India leveled the series 1-1 after beating Sri Lanka by 170 runs in the second Test match in Galle. The hosts had won the first Test at the SSC in Colombo by an innings and 239 runs.
The third and deciding Test will take place from August 8 to 12.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

India bat themselves to a strong position

A spirited India tilted the balance of the second cricket Test in their favour by taking an overall lead of 237 runs to push Sri Lanka on the backfoot at close on the third day here today.

The visitors first dismissed the hosts for 292 to snatch a vital 37-run lead with Harbhajan Singh (6/102) playing a key role and then gave a solid batting display to reach a comfortable 200 for four when play was called off early due to bad light.
After two days of ding-dong battle, the Indians have now put themselves in a position to push for a series-levelling victory after being trounced by an innings and 239 runs in the first Test in Colombo.

Sourav Ganguly and the stylish VVS Laxman were at the crease at stumps without having opened their accounts on an absording day's play which saw nine wickets fall.
With two full days left in the match, the Indians will now seek to take a substantial lead and hope to polish off the islanders quickly in the fourth innings when the track at the Galle International stadium was expected to deteriorate.

The day unfolded perfectly for the tourists as Harbhajan completed his 22nd five-wicket haul to bring Sri Lanka's first innings to an end just at the stroke of lunch. The off-spinner was ably supported by captain Anil Kumble who bagged three wickets.
Mahela Jayawardene was the top scorer for the home team with a responsible 86 as they lost the remaining five wickets for the addition of 77 runs.
The Indians again got off to a solid start with the dashing Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir putting on 90 runs for the opening wicket to provide the platform for a big innings.

Sehwag scored a brisk 50 off 52 balls before falling to paceman Chaminda Vaas with Tillakaratne Dilshan taking a smart catch at the cover region.
Gambhir (74) and Dravid, who has not been in the best of forms, took the score to 144 before 'mystery' spinner Ajantha Mendis struck for the hosts by castling Gambhir with a gem of a delivery.
The Indians could have been in a more commanding position had they not lost Dravid (44) and Sachin Tendulkar (31) in quick succession in the fag end of the day.

The experienced Vaas accounted for Tendulkar as he induced an edge and Prasanna Jayawardene made no mistake behind the stumps.
Dravid was then adjudged leg before to Muttiah Muralitharan by the third umpire after the hosts opted to call for a review. Dravid appeared disappointed as he walked back to the pavilion.
From a comfortable 200 for two, the Indians slipped to 200 for four but still had a good control on the game.

Earlier, resuming at their overnight score of 215 for 5, Jayawardene resisted the Lankan innings from falling apart completely.
Just when it appeared the Sri Lankans would manage a sizeable lead in the first innings, the Sri Lankan skipper edged an Anil Kumble delivery to wicket keeper Dinesh Kaarthick, who did not make any mistake in gathering the ball.

Jayawardene, who made 86 in 188 balls, with the help of 10 fours, also shared a 63-run partnership with wicketkeeper batsman Prasanna Jayawardene to help the Islanders bridge the deficit..
Kumble plucked three wickets in tandem with Harbhajan Singh, who added two more scalps to his yesterday's tally of four exploiting the turning nature of the wicket.

Once Jayawardene returned to the pacilion, Ajantha Mendis was trapped leg before wicket off Kumble without scoring and Muttiah Muralitharan followed suit being caught by Sourav Ganguly off Harbhajan.
Prasanna, who was lucky to survive an appeal for catch by Rahul Dravid as soon as the play began, finally succumbed to the menacing Harbhajan.
The turbanator got his fifth wicket of the Sri Lankan innings when he forced the batsman to scoop a straight forward catch to VVS Laxman at backward short leg.

On an earlier occasion, the leg break of Kumble on the middle stump line drew Prasanna forward and he jabbed off the outer edge of the bat quite low in front of Dravid. The third umpire declared him not out.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Sehwag, Harbhajan help India stay in the fight

Virender Sehwag stood bravely amid the ruins with a swashbuckling, unbeaten 201 before Harbhajan Singh scalped four wickets to leave the
second Test between India and Sri Lanka evenly poised at the end of the second day in Galle, on Friday.
The dashing Sehwag again did the bulk of the scoring as the Indians folded up for 329 in the first innings, with 'mystery' spinner Ajantha Mendis tormenting them with a six-wicket haul.

The hosts lost opener Michael Vandort in the first over but recovered to some extent through a 133-run second-wicket partnership between Malinda Warnapura (66) and Kumar Sangakkara (68) before Harbhajan (4/71) then broke their backbone and left them on 215 for 5 at close, 114 runs behind.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene (46) and Prasana Jayawardene (5) were unbeaten at the end of the day, which saw as many as 11 wickets tumble at the Galle International stadium.
Resuming at the overnight score of 214 for four, the Indian innings came to an end at the stroke of lunch, with Sehwag carrying his bat through for an unbeaten 201, which included 22 boundaries and four sixes.

Sehwag and the stylish V V S Laxman (39), the two overnight batsmen, showed signs of consolidating the innings, but Mendis provided the breakthrough for the the hosts, evicting Laxman.
None of the other batsmen could hang around for long as the remaining five wickets fell for the addition of just 51 runs.

Mendis, whose mesmerising variations and guile continues to trouble the Indians, was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, claiming his maiden five-wicket haul and finishing with impressive figures of 28-1-117-6.
The Indians, who desperately needed to win the match to keep themselves afloat in the three-match series, will now have to stop the islanders from piling up a mammoth first innings total to remain in the game.

With three days remaining, it is the home team that has a slight advantage at this stage of the Test.
The Sri Lankan innings began on a disastrous note. Paceman Zaheer Khan fired the first salvo, getting rid of Michael Vandort (4) in his first over.
The tall left-hander (4) got a thick inside edge, off Khan, which was well taken by Rahul Dravid at third slip.
But Sangakkara and Warnapura then got into one-day mould, scoring at more than a run-a-minute during the first hour after lunch, hitting Zaheer and Ishant Sharma all over the ground.

During his first spell, Ishant, in one over, was hit for two boundaries -- one to point and the other to cover -- much to the glee of the over 7000 strong crowd.
It was then Sangakkara's turn to send the tall and lanky Indian pacer to cover boundary.
The wicketkeeper-batsmen then took Harbhajan head on, dispatching him for two consecutive cover drives.

Sangakkara took 69 balls to complete his 26th half century.
Warnapura then hoicked Kumble to long-on for a six and Sri Lanka's 100 runs came off 120 balls in 87 minutes.
Harbhajan could have had the wicket of Sangakkara but for a miss by Wicketkeeper Dinesh Kaarthik, who could not collect the ball to stump him.
The off-spinner finally dismissed Warnapura in the 35th over when Gautam Gambhir took a sharp catch.

In his next over, Harbhajan induced a leading edge from Sangakkara for a caught and bowled decision.
Though Mahela Jayawardene looked rock solid, Harbhajan struck twice in the 53rd over to peg back the Lankans.
He trapped Thilan Samaraweera (14) with the third ball of the over and three balls later, had Tillakratne Dilshan (0) caught by Gambhir at forward short leg as the Lankans lost their top half for 192 runs.

Both the Jayawardenes, however, played cautiously to ensure there was no further loss on the second day of the match.