Sunday 3 August 2008 

Harbhajan Singh Picks Up Ten Wickets As India Win

Harbhajan Singh picked up ten wickets in the match as India bowled Sri Lanka out for 136 to power to an impressive 170-run win in the second Test in Galle, having set Sri Lanka 307 to win.

Thilan Samaraweera was a lone beacon of resistance in hitting 67 not out as Harbhajan finished with four for 51 and match figures of ten for 153.

They had been 24 for three at lunch and only lost the wicket of Michael Vandort in the afternoon session but after tea, once Tillakaratne Dilshan was dismissed for 33, Sri Lanka's lower order collapsed with the last five wickets falling for just six runs in 4.5 overs as India reversed their innings and 239-run thumping in Colombo with a comprehensive win in Galle.

India were bowled out in their second innings for 269 before Malinda Warnapura (nought), Kumar Sangakkara (one) and Mahela Jayawardene (five) were all dismissed cheaply by India's pace attack to set the tone for the final throes of the match.

India resumed day four on 200 for four with an overall lead of 237. Sri Lanka knew that to get back into the match they would need early wickets and Ajantha Mendis did indeed provide the home side with a breakthrough early on in the day when he had VVS Laxman trapped in front for 13.

Dinesh Karthik, who replaced Laxman has been dreadfully out of form in this series. However, he was intent on playing in a positive fashion as he hit a four and two towering sixes but as he attempted to hit a third maximum he was caught on the deep mid wicket boundary, by Sangakkara off the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan.

Saurav Ganguly followed Karthik back to the pavilion when he was brilliantly stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene to give Muralitharan his third wicket of the innings.

India lost their fourth wicket of the session when Anil Kumble was adjudged lbw, giving Mendis his third wicket. The Indian captain asked for a review, but his challenge proved unsuccessful.

Ishant Sharma picked up an unwanted record, becoming the first Indian to pick up a pair against Sri Lanka as he was run out and although Michael Vandort spilled a sitter that would have seen Harbhajan dismissed, Mendis had him caught and bowled shortly afterwards for 11, with India 306 runs ahead.

Mendis finished with four for 92, Muralitharan three for 107 and Chaminda Vaas two for 32.

Sri Lanka began their second innings shortly before lunch, and they made the worst possible start when the in form Warnapura was caught by Laxman at slip, off the bowling of Sharma

Sangakkara replaced was caught at slip by Laxman, to give Zaheer Khan his first wicket of the innings, and Sharma picked up his second wicket when he had Jayawardene caught at slip by Rahul Dravid, to put India firmly in control of the contest.

After lunch, Vandort was trapped in front by Harbhajan Singh for ten before a battling stand between Thilan Samaraweera and Tillakaratne Dilshan frustrated the Indians.

Samaraweera moved past his half-century and 2,500 runs in Test cricket after Dilshan was dropped by Karthik off of Harbhajan when on 17.

Samaraweera survived a tough caught and bowled chance to Sharma but the partnership was ended when Dilshan edged another excellent delivery from Sharma to Karthik, who this time held on to end the all-rounder's innings of 38 from 47 balls.

Wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene (four) survived an lbw shout off of Harbhajan, making good use of the review system, but he failed to make good use of the sweep shot, top-edging the same bowler to Saurav Ganguly in the deep, who held on well.

Harbhajan was back in the wickets soon after when he had Chaminda Vaas trapped in front to a full ball for a seven-ball duck which left Sri Lanka staring defeat in the face despite the valiant efforts of Samaraweera at the other end.

Nuwan Kulasekera (one) was caught by Sharma off of Kumble before Harbhajan picked up his tenth wicket when Mendis chipped him to Kumble at mid on, much to the disbelief of Samaraweera at the other end.

Muralitharan was tamely caught and bowled by Kumble, who finished with two for 41, for a duck to end the innings with a minimum of fuss.

Sharma, who bowled most impressively earlier in the day, took three for 20 from 15 overs.

The three-match series is now level at 1-1 with one match to play, which starts in Colombo on Friday.

India (329) led Sri Lanka (292) by 37 runs on first innings after Virender Sehwag hit an unbeaten 201, an innings which proved more than the difference between the two sides. He also hit 50 in the second innings, in which Gautam Gambhir contributed 74. Sangakkara, Warnapura and Mahela Jayawardene hit first innings half-centuries before India hit back.

Aaron Kumar/John Pennington
© Cricket Word 2008