Friday 1 August 2008 

Harbhajan Keeps India Fighting After Sehwag Double

Virender Sehwag carried his bat for 201 not out and Harbhajan Singh picked up four wickets as Sri Lanka closed day two of the second Test against India on 215 for five replying to India's 329 all out.

Resuming on 214 for four, India started day two in a positive manner, indeed only an hour into proceedings Sehwag brought up his 150 with a single to become the first Indian to reach this landmark in Sri Lanka.

The opener did enjoy a slice of fortune - as he swept Ajantha Mendis over midwicket, Chamara Silva tried to take the catch on the boundary but ran out of room and only succeeded in knocking the ball over the ropes to give Sehwag his third six of the innings.

VVS Laxman (39) joined in on the act as he pulled Mendis for four to bring up the hundred partnership between himself and Sehwag before he was caught at midwicket by Thilan Samaraweera off the bowling of Mendis.

Dinesh Karthik (seven) replaced Laxman at the wicket, but he did not last too long, as he was adjudged lbw off the bowling of Mendis, who finished with six for 117.

Meanwhile, Sehwag smashed Mendis down the ground for a towering six to bring up India's 300.

Muttiah Muralitharan then picked up his first wicket of the innings when Anil Kumble (four) was stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene.

Mendis claimed the first five wicket haul of his career when he bowled Harbhajan Singh through the gate for a single. At this stage, Sehwag's chances of a double century were in doubt, and even more so when Zaheer Khan skied Muralitharan to wicket-keeper Jayawardene for two.

Sehwag, however, was not to be denied as he tucked the ball away on the on side to reach his fifth Test double century shortly before Ishant Sharma was trapped in front by Mendis for a duck.

Sehwag is only the second Indian batsman to carry his bat through a completed innings, emulating Sunil Gavaskar.

India were fully aware that to stay in the contest they needed early wickets and Zaheer Khan gave the visiting team the perfect start when he had Michael Vandort (four) caught by Dravid at slip in the first over of Sri Lanka's innings.

Malinda Warnapura started to play in an aggressive manner himself, as he struck Khan for four successive boundaries, in what was the most expensive over of the series so far.

Sangakkara brought up Sri Lanka's 50 when he pulled Zaheer Khan to the mid wicket boundary and his 26th half-century came soon afterwards off of Kumble.

Warnapura brought up his half-century when he swept Kumble to fine leg for two runs as the two left-handers added a century stand for the second wicket.

Karthik's miserable tour continued when he missed two chances behind the stumps to give Sri Lanka extra leeway that India can ill-afford.

After tea, Harbhajan Singh came into his own, and from 137 for one, Sri Lanka were soon 144 for three when Harbhajan dismissed Warnapura (68) and Sangakkara (66) in consecutive overs.

Warnapura was caught by Gautam Gambhir and Sangakkara was caught and bowled.

A patient stand of 48 between Mahela Jaywardene (46 not out) and Thilan Samaraweera (14) was ended when Samaraweera was trapped in front and three balls later Tillakaratne Dilshan was caught by Gambhir without scoring.

Harbhajan's figures of four for 71 has left the match evenly poised.

Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0

Aaron Kumar
© Cricket World 2008

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