Zeecric Bureau/Pratik Dogra
Mumbai: Riding on Virender Sehwag’s fastest ever 250, India ended the second day at 443/1 from just 79 overs, ahead by 50 runs and with 9 wickets in hand.
Having overhauled Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 393 runs with almost ridiculous ease in just the 68th overs, Sehwag and Rahul Dravid saw off the remaining overs safely to draw curtains on what had been an exhilarating day of cricket.
Sehwag tore into Sri Lankan bowlers with an enormous ferociousness, smashing a brilliant double hundred; his sixth ever in Tests before finishing the day unbeaten on 284 runs.
Though the scoreboard may suggest otherwise, it was not the case of Sehwag hitting the fifth gear from the word go itself.
Like Tillakaratne Dilshan yesterday, Sehwag started off cautiously, getting a hang of the pitch before coming into his own as soon as the spinners were introduced.
He greeted Rangana Hearth with a six in his first over. He hit another six off the same bowler to race away to his half-century.
Gradually, Sehwag picked pace, slamming his 17th Test century, second consecutive of the series, off just 100 balls.
After reaching his century, Sehwag broke loose even further, reaching his 150 of just 131 balls.
By that time, the Sri Lankan heads had started dropping and they had braced themselves for the inevitable as Sehwag started plundering runs at will.
He brought up his double ton off just 168 balls before completing his 250 runs off just 207 balls. This was the fastest ever 250 runs ever and at the rate he was going, he looked good for a fastest triple century as well.
During the course of the innings, he also went past 6000 runs in Test cricket.
He flogged the Sri Lankan attack for 40 boundaries and 7 sixes to collect 202 runs in boundaries from the 239 balls he faced today!
With a triple hundred beckoning Sehwag who was showing no signs of slowing down, the visitors were left to brace themselves up for yet another day of leather hunt tomorrow.
The minor cramps that seemed to have been bothering him before tea too seemed to have vanished as had the Sri Lankan hopes of recording that elusive victory on the Indian soil.
At the other end, Rahul Dravid too compiled a solid half-century and had moved to 62 runs by close, playing the perfect fiddle to Sehwag during their unbroken 222-run association for the second wicket.
India, who had gone into tea at 260/1 in just 45 overs, accelerated even further, scoring at a staggering 5.8 per over at one point before settling down at 5.6 when the stumps were drawn.
Earlier, Sri Lanka seemed to have got a much needed respite when Rangana Harath managed a breakthrough for the visitors. The off-spinner beat Murali Vijay with a fuller delivery to trap him plumb in front of the wicket for 87 runs.
The lapse on Vijay’s part brought a tame end to what had been an innings of high quality.
Betraying any nerves that someone playing just his second Test, and first for over a year might be expected to suffer, Vijay looked compact from the word go and even out-scored his celebrated opening partner Sehwag initially till the first drinks break.
At ease against both pace and spin, along with Sehwag, Vijay made optimum use of the absence of a genuine quickie in the Sri Lankan ranks. The highlight of his innings was the huge six he hit off Muttiah Muralidaran to reach his first ever half-century.
His 87 runs came off just 121 balls. He also hit 10 fours besides the six.
By the time Sri Lanka got the wicket of Vijay. India had already posted 221 runs on the board in less than 40 overs.
Dravid came in and played a few beautiful shots straight away as the Sri Lankan bowlers seemed to relying on a miracle to save the day for them.
Openers had taken India to 92/0 at lunch and India added another 168 runs in the second session.
India, who go on top of the ICC Test rankings, did even better in the final session when they scored 183 runs.
The pitch that was expected to aid spinners, but while Sehwag was at crease, batting against Muralidaran seemed to be one of the easiest things to do in the world!
Muralidaran came in severe treatment again, going wicket-less for 119 runs from the 20 overs he bowled today while his spin partner Herath went for conceded 112 from his 22 overs. The latter though picked a wicket.
Pacers too were rendered hopelessly ineffective.
In the morning, Angelo Mathews tragically fell short of his maiden Test century when he was run-out while attempting what would have been his 100th run.
Mathews, who had ended the first day unbeaten on 86, started off in a similar attacking vein, quickly moving on to 98 runs when he pulled a bouncer from Sreesanth to deep square-leg.
Attempting a double that would have taken him to his ton, he was beaten by a sharp throw from Sachin Tendulkar. Mahendra Singh Dhoni dislodged the bails just in time to ensure that Mathews missed out on a well deserved century.
Pragyan Ojha then cleaned up Welegedara to draw curtains on the Sri Lankan innings.
Resuming at 366/8, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 393 runs in their first innings.