Colombo: A sedate batting approach by master-blaster Sachin Tendulkar amalgamated with an impressive batting display by Suresh Raina and skipper MS Dhoni, knocked off all Sri Lankan plans of repeating the heroics of first Test match at Galle, where Sri Lanka dismissed batting-heavy India twice in two days.
India, who started the fourth day’s proceedings with initial target of saving the follow-on, now lead by 27 runs at the end of the day’s play in the first innings.
India dominated all three sessions on fourth day, posting 287 runs with Tendulkar and Raina reaching their double-hundred and hundred respectively. Captain Dhoni tried to step up the run-rate with quick half-century and even after his dismissal on 76, the lower order batsman continued to grill the exhausted Sri Lankan attack on the batting pitch.
Tilakratne Dilshan, interestingly, was the most successful bowler of the day from the Sri Lankan stables, picking up three wickets that included heavyweights Tendulkar and Dhoni. Spinners Ajantha Mendis and Suraj Randiv also shared 6 wickets between them but 369 runs were spent for those wickets collectively and it reveals that they were hardly threatening.
At the onset of the day’s proceedings, Tendulkar resumed his innings from where he left on Wednesday and displayed a wide range of shots all over the SSC ground in Colombo.
Giving him a fitting support, Raina also completed his maiden century and became only the 12th Indian to score a Test century on debut. He, like his mentor Tendulkar, completed his hundred by punching a delivery from Dammika Prasad through covers for a boundary.
Raina is the only Indian batsman after Virender Sehwag to achieve this feat. Interestingly, Tendulkar was at the other end too during Sehwag’s innings at South Africa in 2001.
Ajantha Mendis broke the intimidating fifth wicket partnership of 256 runs between Raina and Sachin after lunch to put brakes on India’s steady progress.
However, unfazed by loss of partner, Tendulkar continued to milk Sri Lankan bowling and reached his fifth double hundred studded with 23 beautiful boundaries and a lofted six over Mendis.
Before getting dismissed on an individual score of 203, Tendulkar weaved yet another significant partnership of 95 runs with Dhoni to leave India in a position where India can not lose this Test.
In the post-tea session, Dhoni took control of the game as he stroked few meaty blows and constructed a frustrating eighth wicket partnership of 51 runs with Abhimanyu Mithun which took India past 600.
This is only the third time when a team batting second has surpassed a first inning score of 600-plus in Test cricket.
After Dhoni’s dismissal, the late order batsman saw the last over safely and at the time of stumps on day 4, India now leads by 27 runs. With only one day left in the game, the Test match is headed for a draw unless captains from both sides decide to be overtly adventurous.
Sri Lanka leads the three match Test series by 1-0 after they registered 10-wicket win over India in first match at Galle.