Late wickets leave India-Sri Lanka Test in balance

August 2nd, 2008 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Rex Clementine
Galle, Aug 2 (IANS) Indian batsmen did all the hard work to put their team on top in the second Test against Sri Lanka, but two wickets just before the close of play on the third day left the game in balance at the Galle International Cricket Stadium here. India had claimed the remaining five Sri Lankan wickets in the morning to knock off the hosts for 292 in their first innings, gaining a slender but decisive 37-run lead. The toursists then moved to 200 for two, but two wickets in quick succession allowed Sri Lanka right back into the game.

Sri Lanka picked up the big wickets of Rahul Dravid (44) and Sachin Tendulkar (31) in the space of seven deliveries as India slumped to 200 for four after being 200 for two a little while earlier.

On a pitch that looked to have eased out, the Indians made easy work of the feared Sri Lankan attack.

Building on the first innings, Virender Sehwag (50) and Gautam Gambhir (74) extended the first wicket’s partnership for 90 runs before Chaminda Vaas accounted for Sehwag. The opener hit a typical aggressive run a ball half-century before driving a full pitched delivery straight to cover-fielder Tillekeratne Dilshan who timed his jump perfectly to come up with a good catch.

The Indians lost only one wicket in the afternoon session as they took tea on 121 for one.

After tea, Ajantha Mendis made the breakthrough by getting rid of Gambhir, when his off-break pitched on leg-stump and turned sharply to take Gambhir by surprise as it clipped the off-bail.

Tendulkar has to wait to break Brian Lara’s World Record for most runs in Tests as he was dismissed for 31 runs. Chaminda Vaas was testing Tendulkar’s patience pitching it outside the off-stump and eventually forced the batsman go for a booming drive and nick it to Mahela Jayawardene at first slip.

Then in the next over, Rahul Dravid, who made the first noteworthy contribution in the series was ruled leg before wicket after television referral. Dravid had gone for a full blooded sweep, but missed the ball and after umpire Billy Doctrove ruled not out, the Sri Lankan captain opted for the referral after some hesitation and it came back positive much to the delight of the Sri Lankans

Dravid returned to the pavilion frustrated with the time the Sri Lankans had taken to call for the referral.

Only one more over was possible as play was stopped due to bad light with Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S.Laxman yet to get off the mark.

Resuming at the overnight 215 for five, Sri Lanka were bowled out inside 300 at the stroke of lunch. Harbhajan Singh finished with six for 102 and Indian captain Anil Kumble claimed three for 82.

The hosts had progressed nicely to 291 for seven with captain Mahela Jayawardene (86) extending the eighth wicket partnership to 36 runs with Nuwan Kulasekara, but his dismissal triggered a lower order collapse as Sri Lanka lost three wickets for just one run.

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