Sri Lanka close to series win

August 11th, 2008 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Rex Clementine
Colombo, Aug 11 (IANS) Sri Lanka were closing in on a second successive home series win against India as they reached 45 for two while chasing 122-run target at tea on the fourth day of the third and final Test Match at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium here Monday. Sri Lankans required only 77 runs more to seal the series 2-1 after India were bowled out for 268 runs in their second innings, earlier in the day.

Sri Lanka got off to a wobbly start, losing two early wickets, but captain Mahela Jayawardene and Malinda Warnapura steadied the innings with an unbroken third-wicket stand of 23 runs.

India were handicapped by the absence of fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who was nursing a right gluteus muscle contusion, and were forced to give the new ball to off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

The tourists were also without V.V.S. Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, both nursing injuries. Indian team sources said that Tendulkar is unlikely to be fit for the forthcoming five-match ODI series.

India started in a determined fashion as Harbhajan Singh picked up a wicket off the second over of the innings when he beat Michael Van Dort with his arm ball.

Kumar Sangakkara, who put Sri Lanka on top with a fine 144, was out for four, a soft dismissal as he drove lazily to mid-off where Gautam Gambhir took a dolly.

Earlier, resuming from the overnight score of 161 for five, India did well to reach 268.

Rahul Dravid and a half-fit Laxman extended their overnight stand to 85 runs. Both batsmen posted half-centuries, Dravid for the first time in the series while Laxman scored his second half-century in the tour.

Dravid was picked up by Mendis for 68 while Laxman, who was aided by a runner, was left stranded on 61, his highest score in the series.

The Indian innings was wrapped up when the last man Ishant Sharma was picked up by Warnapura at gully without scoring.

Mendis went on to finish with 26 wickets in the series while Muralitharan claimed 21 wickets.

India made 249 runs in their first innings and Sri Lanka gained a 147-run lead when they finished with 396 all out

Sri Lanka won the first Test by an innings and 238 runs while India bounced back to win the second Test by 170 runs.

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