Ahmedabad: Sri Lanka steadily consolidated their show of strength, moving to 483/5 at tea on the third day of the first Test of the 3-Test series in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
After Tillakaratne Dilshan, who scored 112 yesterday, Mahela Jayawardene became Sri Lanka’s second centurion of the match as the visitors dwarfed India’s first innings score of 426 runs with comfortable ease.
Jayawardene produced an uncharacteristically measured, but effective nonetheless, effort with the bat, as he slammed his Test career’s 26th century.
Singles and doubles contributed a bulk to Jayawardene’s innings who had hit 12 fours and a six so far as the Sri Lankans batted their way into the driver’s seat.
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With 2 full days and a session still left in the match, hopes of an Indian victory all but evaporated especially if the lack of spine in the bowling attack was to be taken into account.
Barring Zaheer Khan, and occasionally Ishant Sharma, the bowling lacked sting. The spinners were milked easily as the Lankans kept the scoreboard ticking.
While Harbhajan Singh had just a solitary success to his name from his 35 overs until tea so far, Amit Mishra fared worse, going wicket-less in his 30 overs.
To make matters worse, the duo conceded runs at more than 4 runs per over, to leave Mahendra Singh Dhoni struggling for ideas as to where to look for getting a much-needed wicket.
Prasanna Jayawardene was giving good company to Mahela and had moved on to 43 runs, while the senior pro was on 142 runs.
Sri Lanka was 375/5 at lunch
Harbhajan Singh had picked-up the wicket of Angelo Mathews off the final ball before lunch, but not before Sri Lanka had added a hundred runs to their overnight tally and placed themselves in a position of strength at lunch.
Mathews was the fifth Lankan wicket to fall, second of the day, and Bhajji’s first victim, as the visitors were just 51 runs away from overhauling India’s first inning score of 426 runs with 5-wickets in their kitty.
Earlier, Yuvraj Singh had plucked off a blinder at short square-leg to present India its first success of the morning in the form of Thilana Samaraweera’s wicket.
The southpaw displayed great reflexes to latch on to a sharp catch offered by Samaraweera off the bowling of Ishant Sharma, who picked up his second wicket.
The breakthrough was timely as the Sri Lankans had appeared to be drifting away with the game with effortless ease.
Samaraweera, who had added 138 runs for the fourth wicket with Mahela Jayawardene, eventually fell for 70 runs off 145 balls.
Sri Lankans were 332/4 at the time of Samaraweera’s demise. Mathews-Jayawardene association then lasted 43 runs before a one-handed catch at short-leg by Gautam Gambhir spelt doom for Mathews.
Mathews made 17 runs.
The crucial third day’s play of the first Test between India and Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad got underway with skipper Dhoni opting for Bhajji to commence the proceedings.
Amit Mishra operated from the other end but both the spinners proved ineffective in the early overs as both Samaraweera and Jayawardene notched up fine half-centuries.
Meanwhile, Jayawardene was in sparkling form as Sri Lanka look to capitalize on a placid pitch. Former Sri Lankan captain was unbeaten on 86 when the lunch break was taken.