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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.


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