Saturday 2 August 2008 

Harbhajan Takes Six Wickets Before India Push Ahead

Harbhajan Singh claimed six wickets as India bowled Sri Lanka out for 292 in their first innings to secure a first innings lead of 37 runs before Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag hit half-centuries in their second innings on day three of the second Test in Galle.

India closed the day on 200 for four after Sehwag hit 50 and Gambhir 74 to go 237 runs ahead with two days of play remaining.

Harbhajan Singh finished with figures of six for 102 countered half-centuries by Mahela Jayawardene (86), Kumar Sangakkara (68) and Malinda Warnapura (66).

India were bowled out in their first innings on day two for 329 with Virender Sehwag unbeaten on 201.

Sri Lanka resumed the day with their score on 215 for five, skipper Mahela Jayawardene continued to look comfortable at the wicket, and he reached his half-century when he worked a ball into the leg side off the bowling of Harbhajan.

Harbhajan claimed his fifth wicket of the innings when he had Prasanna Jayawardene caught by VVS Laxman at short leg. Chaminda Vaas (one) was caught at short cover by Harbhajan to give Indian captain Anil Kumble his first wicket of the series.

Nuwan Kulasekara replaced Vaas at the wicket, he and his captain set about eating away at India’s total. However, the Sri Lankan batsmen were tied down by some very accurate bowling by the Indians, scoring at just over one run an over for the first ten overs after the fall of Vaas.

Dinesh Karthik’s poor game continued, when the wicket-keeper dropped Jayawardene - it was a difficult chance but one that India really needed to have been taken.

Jayawardene was not able to capitalise on his good fortune however, as he was caught by Karthik, to give Kumble his second wicket, and leave Sri Lanka 291 for eight. It was Karthik’s 50th catch in Test cricket.

Harbhajan finished off Sri Lanka’s innings when he dismissed Muttiah Muralitharan for nought while Kumble finished with figures of three for 81, meaning that spin accounted for nine wickets in Sri Lanka’s first innings.

India began their second innings after lunch, and the opening batsmen started in a contrasting fashion. While Gambhir was quite content to work the single and keep rotating the strike, Sehwag played in his usual aggressive manner. He hit a series of boundaries early on, before smashing Muralitharan for a huge six over square leg.

The pair brought up their half-century partnership in the 11th over and Sehwag brought up his 14th Test half-century soon after.

Just a few balls afterwards, Sehwag, brimming with confidence, attempted to smash Vaas through the covers but Tillakaratne Dilshan took a superb catch, in the process rolling his ankle, to dismiss him for 50.

Rahul Dravid brought up India’s century with a glorious shot into the covers for a couple of runs as India tightened their grip on the game.

Gambhir hit a well timed straight drive, to the boundary off the bowling of Muralitharan to bring up his second half century of the match and he continued his good form after tea, with some very well timed boundaries, and he took a single off the bowling of Muralitharan to bring up the 50 partnership between himself and Dravid.

Gambhir’s fine knock was finally ended when he was bowled by Mendis for 74.

Vaas provided Sri Lanka with a much needed breakthrough when he had Tendulkar, who had looked in good touch for his 31, caught at first slip by Mahela Jayawardene.

Dravid (44) survived a huge shout for lbw when Muralitharan was bowling. However, Jayawardene challenged the decision and the third umpire gave Dravid out to leave India on 200 for four with Sri Lanka fighting back hard.

Play was suspended due to bad light a few balls after Dravid's dismissal.

Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0.

Aaron Kumar
© Cricket World 2008

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