Sreesanth sensational, India in sight of victory at Kanpur (Lead)

November 26th, 2009 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Kanpur, Nov 26 (IANS) Shanthakumaran Sreesanth celebrated his international comeback with a sensational five-wicket burst and India were on track to victory over Sri Lanka in the second cricket Test at Green Park Stadium here Thursday.
Facing India’s huge total of 642, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 229 in their first innings and following on lost four wickets for 57 by stumps on the third day. Thilan Samaraweera (1) and Angelo Mathews (2) were at the crease, the visitors still needing 356 runs to make India bat again.

It was Sreesanth and not the expected spinners who demolished the Sri Lankans. He bagged six wickets in the day, dismissing the dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second innings to add to his five for 75 in the first. Spinners Harbhajan Singh (2-54) and Pragyan Ojha (2-37) played the supportive roles. Ojha, in particular, had a fine debut picking up the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene (47).

Sreesanth, who played his last Test here on the same track 18 months ago against South Africa, knew exactly how to bowl on a track with variable bounce. He stuck to the basics like finding the right line and length consistently.

For someone who spent the last year and half in the wilderness nursing injuries and getting into news for all wrong reasons, the Kerala captain was a completely transformed man. He was disciplined in everything he did this day. The theatrics were missing and his focus was on his bowling, mostly cutting the ball in and out from perfect length to leave the batsman guessing.

In fact, Sreesanth’s impressive first spell Wednesday evening was just an indication of things to come. He carried on in the morning when Sri Lanka resumed at 66 for one and had unusually longish spells for a fast bowler in the day.

In a lethal nine-over morning spell, Sreesanth dismissed Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Thilan Samaraweera.

Sreesanth struck in the sixth over when Paranavitana edged one behind and Mahendra Singh Dhoni took a low catch.

Sreesanth almost got the prized wicket of Mahela Jayawerdene first ball but was unlucky as the edge bisected Dhoni and first-slip Sachin Tendulkar.

Sangakkara, who was clearly troubled by Sreesanth, went for an expansive stroke only to drag the ball on to the stumps.

Samaraweera, too, edged one on to the stumps even before guaging the pace of the wicket.

When Harbhajan dismissed Mathews at the stroke of lunch, the follow-on was clearly on the cards.

After the break, Sreesanth sent back Prasanna Jayawardene and Rangana Herath.

Jayawardene was caught behind slashing while Herath was bowled by a beauty, just doing enough to beat the bat.

Mahela grew impatient at the other end and gave a charge to Ojha, having hoisted the spinner for a six in the previous over, but found Sachin Tendulkar at mid-on.

Sri Lanka’s innings folded up immediately after tea.

Sreesanth was back again, this time to provide the breakthrough in the second innings, bamboozling Dilshan with another fine outswinger.

Virender Sehwag trapped Paranavitana lbw while Mahela was run out after a needless mix up with Sangakkara.

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