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India look for safety as SL pile on the runs

Zeecric Bureau

Galle: Bad light put an early end to the third day’s play in the first Test between India and Sri Lanka being played here at the Galle International Stadium. At stumps, India were placed at 140/3 with Virender Sehwag (85) and VVS Laxman (18) holding fort for the visitors.

Earlier, Sri Lanka declared their first innings at a mammoth 520/8 at the stroke of tea on the third day. For the Lankans, Rangana Herath remained unbeaten with 80 while Lasith Malinga too chipped in with 64. Tharanga Parnavitana (111) and Kumar Sangakkara (103) had both scored brilliant tons on the first day.

For India, Abhimanyu Mithun took 4 while Ishant Sharma captured 3 wickets.

First Session

In the morning, play in the India-Sri Lanka Test finally started after almost one and a half-day was lost due to persistent rains. While the first day was interrupted because of wet outfield and bad light, no play was possible on the second day.

Even though warm and dry weather welcomed the players at the Galle International Stadium, soft patches in the outfield delayed the start of the proceedings.

Ishant Sharma struck in his first over of the day as he sent back centurion Tharanga Paranavitana for 111. Paranavitana was caught behind by Dhoni off a delivery that moved away slightly after pitching.

Moments after Ishant produced the first breakthrough of the day, Abhimanyu Mithun too struck a blow as he got rid off Thilan Samaraweera to reduce the Lankans to 260/4. Samaraweera was out LBW for a duck.

A 50-run partnership between Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews helped Sri Lanka regain control of the first Test. The Lankan 300 came up in the 82nd over of the innings.

Ishant claimed his second wicket of the morning as he sent back dangerman Jayawardene to reduce Sri Lanka to 322/5. Jayawardene was out LBW just two short of his fifty.

Ishant continued to spit fire with the ball as he took his third wicket of the morning. Angelo Mathews (41) became the latest casualty, who was caught brilliantly by VVS Laxman at second slip.

Post-Lunch Session

Just a few overs into the second session, Mithun struck a crucial blow as he sent back Prasanna Jayawardene to reduce the Lankans to 393/7. Jayawardene scored 27 before being trapped in front of the wickets.

Herath scored his maiden Test fifty as the home side looked to stretch their first innings score as much as possible.

Adding to the misery of the Indian bowlers, Malinga blasted three fours in a Pragyan Ojha over as Sri Lanka eclipsed the 450-run mark.

Malinga then slammed his maiden half-ton in first class cricket in quick time. Meanwhile, Herath and Malinga completed their 100-run partnership for the eighth wicket.

Malinga continued to play aggressively and hit two consecutive sixes off Ojha to take the Sri Lankan total past the 500-run mark.

But, after scoring 64, Malinga finally departed to give the Indians a sense of relief. Malinga was caught by Harbhajan Singh off Mithun at fine leg. The wicket meant that Muttiah Muralitharan came out amidst loud cheers to bat probably for the last time in his Test career.

Shortly, Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara declared the home team’s first innings at 520/8 at the stroke of tea.

Post-Tea Session

India were off to a disastrous start as they lost the wicket of Gautam Gambhir in the first over of the innings. Gambhir was out LBW to Malinga for 2.

Sehwag launched a counter attack in familiar fashion as he, along with Rahul Dravid took the Indian total past the 50-run mark after the visitors had received an early jolt in the form of Gautam Gambhir’s dismissal. The Indian fifty came up in the ninth over of the innings with Sehwag contributing 29 runs to the total.

Just when it looked like Sehwag and Dravid would take the team to a safe score, a misunderstanding between the batsmen led to Dravid’s run-out for 18.

However, Sehwag continued and smashed yet another half-ton in Test cricket to take India past the three figure mark with Sachin Tendulkar giving him good company at the other end.

Playing his last Test match, Muttiah Muralitharan struck a crucial blow as he removed master blaster Sachin Tendulkar to reduce India to 101/3. Sachin was out LBW for 8.

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