It was yet another shocking first-innings start by the Indian batsmen who are struggling to put an answer to the unconventional bowling style of Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis. Both Mendis and newcomer paceman Dammika Prasad shared 8 wickets to jolt India at third and final Test match against Sri Lanka at the P.Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo.
After a comfortable opening stand of 51 runs, in-form batsman Virender Sehwag departed scoring only 21 off 21 balls. He became the first victim of the debutant bowler who also rattled the next two wickets of Rahul Dravid (10) and Sachin Tendulkar for just 6.
Though opener Gautam Gambhir made a valiant knock of 72 but wickets continued to fall around him. The Fourth wicket to fall was of Sourav Ganguly (35) who fell to ace spinner Muralitharan in the hands of Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene at the first slip. When Ganguly left for pavilion, there were only 151 runs on the board.
Then came Ajantha Mendis with his 5-wicket haul spell which includes Gambhir (72), VVS Laxman (25), Parthiv Patel (13), Anil Kumble (1) and the last wicket of Indian innings Zaheer Khan (32).
It was only the last-wicket stand between Ishant Sharma (17*) and Zaheer Khan (32) which yielded 51-run to cross the 200 mark and eventually Indian innings came to halt with the loss of Zaheer’s wicket. Co-incidently the first and last wicket partnership put 51 runs on board.
However, the highlight of the match remains the Mendis and Dammika Prasad combo who together let the Indian batsmen keep guessing, especially the straight delivery of Mendis. The debutant Prasad certainly has a great day by taking the wickets of batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
At the end of the first day play, Sri Lanka in reply to India’s 1st innings total managed to score 14 runs but on the way lost the wicket of opener Malinda Waranpura (8). The Delhi paceman Ishant Sharma was the wicket taker.
The series is now evenly balanced at 1-1, with Sri Lanka winning the first Test and India the next with an comprehensive 170-run victory. However, the second and third day will certainly be crucial for both the team considering the nature of wicket which might later go well with spinners. Harbhajan Singh and skipper Anil Kumble no doubt have to perform their best.
India 1st innings: 249 all out (G Gambhir 72, S Ganguly 35, Zaheer 32; A Mendis 5-86, D Prasad 3/82, Muralitharan 2-58).
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