India in troubled waters against Sri Lanka in Colombo Test

August 8th, 2008 - 8:48 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rex Clementine
Colombo, Aug 8 (IANS) India were looking down the barrel on the first day of the decisive third and final Test against Sri Lanka after being bowled out for a pathetic 249 in their first innings at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium here Friday. After debutant pacer Dammika Prasad (3-82) ran through the famed Indian top-order, freak spinner Ajantha Mendis (5-86) once again proved too hot for the visitors.

Sri Lanka’s openers had eight overs to negotiate before close of play and lost Malinda Warnapura for eight before Chaminda Vaas was sent in to negotiate the remaining three overs as night watchman. Sri Lanka were 14 for one at close.

India’s batsmen let Anil Kumble down after he chose to bat on a perfect batting track while Sri Lanka’s efforts to win the series could not have got off to a better start. Gautam Gambhir (72) was the highest scorer for India as the rest of the batsmen did not apply themselves.

India’s last pair of Ishant Sharma (17 not out) and Zaheer Khan (32) proved that there were no demons on the wicket by adding 52 runs.

The hosts had lamented lack of fire power in their pace attack as India bounced back to square the series by winning the second Test in Galle. The hosts brought in Dammika Prasad for his debut in place of Nuwan Kulasekara and that decision paid off.

Prasad claimed three wickets with the new ball, getting rid of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.

Sehwag, who had hit an unbeaten double hundred in the second Test, nicked one behind to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene. Prasad then changed ends to trap Dravid and Tendulkar leg before wicket.

Freak spinner Ajantha Mendis, who has troubled the Indian batsmen throughout the series then claimed five for 56 runs.

Mendis’ second five-wicket haul in Tests took his tally in the series to 23 and is one short of the world record held by Sir Alec Bedser. The English fast bowler had claimed 24 wickets in his debut series also against India in 1946. Mendis also equalled the record for most number of wickets in Tests in a Sri Lanka - India series by joining Muttiah Muralitharan, who claimed 23 wickets in 2001.

It was a sorry batting display by the famed Indian batsmen. The fabulous four of Tendulkar, Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, from whom much was expected, did nothing significant with the series at stake. They have managed just one fifty so far in the series.

At the start of the series, it was expected that Tendulkar, who needed 172 runs to overtake Brian Lara as the most run scorer in Tests will reach the milestone in Sri Lanka, but he has managed only 81 runs in five innings in the series so far.

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