Colombo, Aug. 9: A spate of on-field injuries bedraggled the Indians and left them a disgruntled lot. The Indians had three players receiving medical treatment and a wicket keeper with a bloody nose when bad light forced early closure. The occasional flashes of brilliance with the ball coupled with inept stroke play from the Lankan batsmen, however, kept the game in balance.
Kumar Sangakkara, bringing in all the finer attributes and discipline expected of a Test batsman, crafted a fine unbeaten century to keep his team afloat. Sri Lanka, fully aware of the weight a handy lead would bring, were 251 for six in reply to India’s 249.
It was a day when gloom enveloped the Indians. V.V.S. Laxman was injured even before play started while Sachin Tendulkar and Ishant Sharma had to leave the field at different points during the day. Moments before play was called off, Parthiv Patel was struck on his nose bridge off a delivery from Anil Kumble. The ‘keeper, however, braved the injury and carried on.
Much water has flowed under the bridge since such a fine exhibition of Test batsmanship has been on view. Sangakkara controlled the show with a measured innings, treating the bowling on merit. His running between the wickets was hard and even with wickets falling around him he continued with a single-minded pursuit.
It was a day of referrals and injuries that held up play for long, yet Sangakkara’s concentration stood firm. Sangakkara removed all impressions on the wicket the Indian top-order had created. The approach in the morning was hardly in tune with it.
Michael Vandort and Chaminda Vaas were steadfast but runs were hardly in their plan. Zaheer Khan operated with intelligence. And just when it looked he was running dry he had Vandort playing around his pads.
Then came a flurry of boundaries from Vaas. Sangakkara timed a few sweetly through covers to get himself in. Lunch was taken at 114. The first session produced 100 and things did not look rosy for India. Rahul Dravid put down a sharp chance off Kumble when Sangakkara was on 34 and that proved costly.
Harbhajan did not look an inch the bowler who had 10 wickets in Galle, he allowed the cut and sweep too easily for Vaas. A glorious cover drive off Kumble and Sangakkara’s lofted on drive were rare gems.ῠ Vaas survived a LBW shout when the TV umpire ruled in his favour.
Colombo, Aug. 9: With injuries to four key players, the Indian team will definitely have reasons to be worried. But Zaheer Khan was confident the team will put the concerns behind them and come back strongly on Sunday.
Zaheer admitted it was too early to think about a possible fourth innings target for the hosts as there is a lot of work left to be done before reaching that stage of the match.
“The game is evenly poised at the moment. We need to get them out early tomorrow. Will have to wait and see how things go. Things could have gone either way.”
“A few decisions went here and there. First we will have to get them out early and then bat well. The first session is crucial and once we put up a good total on the board we know it will get tight as they will have to bat last,” said Zaheer.
India (1st innings): 249 all out
Sri Lanka (1st innings) Batsmanῠhow outῠrunsῠballsῠ4sῠ6s M Vandort ῠlbw Khan ῠ14ῠ ῠ50 ῠ1 ῠ0 M Warnapura ῠb Sharma ῠ8 ῠ37 ῠ0 ῠ0 C Vaas ῠc Sehwag b Harbhajan Singh ῠ47 ῠ6 ῠ0 ῠ0 K Sangakkaraῠ ῠ(batting)ῠ107 ῠ226ῠ ῠ11 ῠ 0ῠ M Jayawardene ῠlbw b Harbhajan Singh ῠ2 ῠ10 ῠ0 ῠ0 T Samaraweera ῠc P. Patel b Khan ῠ35 ῠ113 ῠ84 ῠ3 TM Dilshan ῠlbw b Kumble ῠ23 ῠ65 ῠ3ῠ0 P Jayawardene ῠ(batting)ῠ1 ῠ9ῠ0 ῠ0 Extrasῠ (b 2, lb 9, w 2, nb 1) ῠῠ14 Total (92