Colombo: The second day’s play of the final Test ended with India registering 180/2 in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 425 runs.
The duo of Virender Sehwag (97) and Sachin Tendulkar (39) was on the crease and looked set to make a game out of the crucial tie as they trail 1-0 in the series. It was a day of hard work for both the outfits where the first half was dominated by the hosts while Dhoni’s men came back strongly in the latter part.
The visitors are also wary of the dubious distinction of the venue, where the fourth innings average total is a paltry 215.
Thilan Samaraweera had stood out of the crowd at P Sara Oval with an unbeaten 137 as Sri Lanka registered 425 runs on the board at the end of their first innings.
Rahul Dravid continued with his dismal form in the series and was the second cog to fall as he was done in by a length ball that got him plumb in front of the wickets, a form of dismissal that has stuck with him for sometime now.
Murali Vijay was the first Indian batsman to fall, getting out to a slower length delivery outside off stump at a score of 14 runs.
On the Sri Lankan innings front, the penultimate wicket fell to Ishant Sharma as the speedster got Ajantha Mendis for a score of 3 runs. Chanaka Welegedara followed suit and Sri Lanka were wrapped-up for a solid first innings score.
If the morning was a grueling battle, the post lunch session had yielded new strength into the Indian bowlers and the spinners took charge of claiming wickets. Virender Sehwag was the first reaper of benefits with his wicket of Suraj Randiv. Amit Mishra spun into action too and got Lasith Malinga as Sri Lanka crossed the 400-run mark.
Even as a couple of wickets went down to the Indian bowlers in a hard morning session for both the teams, Samaraweera had kept his cool to slam a solid century, his twelfth in Test cricket. His efforts took the Lankans to 369/6 at lunch.
Prasanna Jayawardene became Pragyan Ojha’s fourth victim of the innings as he was rightly adjudged LBW at a score of 9 runs. The wicket came in close to the lunch of Day 2 and was a bolt out of the blues for the hosts as they inched towards the 400-run mark.
Ojha had claimed the first wicket of the morning as he got Angelo Mathews plumb in front of the wickets at 45. Ojha’s third wicket of the innings came via a flatter delivery on the off stump that pushed through the line.
The first session of play had started with Indian bowlers trying to make in-roads into the Sri Lankan batting line-up early on. Angelo was lucky on a couple of occasions, almost flirting with danger as he was a whisker away from being adjudged LBW at a score of 37 runs. He however, could not be second time lucky and went just before he could materialize another fifty.
With a lot depending on the Indian batsmen’s grit and scoring rate on the third day, it would be interesting to see the strategy adopted by both the captains tomorrow.