India struggling to save series against Sri Lanka

August 10th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 10 (IANS) India will have to play out of their skin to save the third cricket Test as Sri Lanka reduced them to 161 for five in their second innings on the third day of the third and final cricket Test at the P.Saravanamuttu Stadium here Sunday. With the series squared at 1-1, the Sri Lankans gained a first innings lead of 147 and were comfortably on the driver’s seat after running through India’s top order at close of third day’s play. India have a lead of just 14 runs and it is now up to the experienced pair of Rahul Dravid (46) and V.V.S Laxman (17) to pull India out of the rut.

The duo has forged many match-winning partnership before and needs to come up with one such effort.

In reply to India’s first inning total of 249, Sri Lankans guided by Kumar Sangakkara’s 144 and with some assistance from the tail made 396.

After the batsmen had put them on top, it was the turn of Sri Lanka’s bowlers to script another downfall of India’s famous batting line-up.

The bad form of Indian batsmen in the series has been their prime concern and compounding their problems were the injuries sustained by veterans Sachin Tendulkar and Laxman on the second day.

The tourists though began promisingly as Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir brought up 50 runs in 38 minutes off 47 ball and went to tea on 57 for none.

After the break, debutant Dammika Prasad continued his fine run with the ball and removed the Indian openers in successive overs to bring Sri Lanka back into the game.

Sehwag (34) was well caught by Thilan Samaraweera at gully while Gambhir (26) dragged one onto his stumps.

The fabulous four of the Indian line up - Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sourav Ganguly - were under pressure having scored just one fifty among them in 24 innings. But they choked once again.

Dravid dropped anchor at one end while Laxman, struggling with an ankle injury was on 17, but their stay in the middle hardly looked convincing.

Ganguly managed less than 100 runs in six innings in this series and despite being dropped on eight by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip off Muttiah Muralitharan, the left-hander failed to make most of the reprieve and was ruled out leg before wicket to Muralitharan for 18.

Mendis, who had been the Indians nemesis then picked up Parthiv Patel and Tendulkar in quick succession.

The series has been a special for Mendis who has broken Sir Alec Bedser’s world record that had stood for 62 long years. His 25 wickets in the series is the most number of wickets taken by a debutant in a three match series.

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