Mendis Five-Wicket Haul Ends Late Indian Resistance

Ajantha Mendis took his second five-wicket haul as India were bowled out for 249 on day one of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka at the the P.Savaranamuttu Stadium in Colombo. Sri Lanka closed on 14 for one having lost Malinda Warnapura with Michael Vandort on three and nightwatchman Chaminda Vaas yet to score. Gautam Gambhir hit a stylish 72, debutant Dammika Prasad picked up three wickets before Mendis took over, ending a last-wicket stand worth 51 between Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma as India were unable to post a substantial score having won the toss. Virender Sehwag was dropped early on by Malinda Warnapura at square leg when on 14 but was unable to go on and make Sri Lanka pay as Prasad had him caught behind by Prasanna Jayawardene for 21. Gambhir brought up his third consecutive 50 from just 58 balls when he clipped a full toss from Mendis through midwicket for a boundary. Prasad went on to have Rahul Dravid (ten) and Sachin Tendulkar (six) trapped in front as he followed the example of Ajantha Mendis, who bowled seven overs this morning. Dravid was once again undone by the review system, the third umpire overturning the on field decision to reprieve Dravid while Tendulkar unsuccessfully challenged his decision. After lunch Ganguly seemed intent to play in a positive manner as he struck three boundaries, including a glorious square cut. He promptly smashed Muralitharan for a huge six over long on. Muralitharan could have had his revenge a couple of deliveries later, but Jayawardene could not hold on to a chance at slip, and to add insult to injury the ball went for four, and that over from Muralitharan went for 11. A partnership of 49 between Gambhir and Ganguly was ended when Ganguly (35) was well caught at slip, by the Sri Lankan captain Jayawardene, to give Muralitharan his first wicket of the match in front of his home crowd. Much like Dravid, Gambhir survived a big shout for lbw. However another successful challenge from the Sri Lankans saw the end of Gambhir for 72, and it gave Mendis his first wicket. Gambhir's had been a gem of an innings and he left visibly disappointed not to have converted his latest score into a century. He hit ten fours from 128 balls. VVS Laxman never looked comfortable at the crease and his painstaking efforts were brought to and end when he was stumped for 25 to give Mendis his second wicket - in five innings against Mendis, he has yet to not be dismissed by the spinner. Tea was taken at the fall of Laxman’s wicket. Parthiv Patel (13) was dismissed soon after lunch, the wicketkeeper batsman was adjudged lbw to give the in form Mendis his third wicket. Patel did challenge the decision but was unsuccessful. Captain Anil Kumble followed Patel back to the pavilion just a few balls later when he was bowled through the gate by Mendis, to leave India reeling on 196 for eight. Harbhajan Singh (three) tried to launch a counter attack. However in attempting to smash Muralitharan for six he only succeeded in hitting the ball straight to Michael Vandort on the mid wicket boundary. Zaheer brought up India’s 200 with a glorious sweep shot off the bowling of Muralitharan and he and Sharma started to frustrate the Sri Lankans as their partnership for the last wicket crept past 25 runs and became the second longest partnership of the innings in terms of balls faced. Zaheer worked a ball from Mendis into the off side for a couple of runs to bring up a remarkable 50 partnership for the last wicket but two balls later Khan tried to hit a huge shot over mid wicket but was stumped and India were bowled out for 249, Mendis finishing with five for 56. Prasad finished with three for 82 and Muralitharan two for 58. Sri Lanka’s opening batsmen, Malinda Warnapura and Michael Vandort were faced with the uncomfortable task of having to survive eight overs until the close of play. The duo looked set to negotiate to survive till the close of play but Sharma struck with just two overs left in the days play, bowling Warnapurna (eight) through the gate to leave Sri Lanka 14 for one. The series is level at 1-1 after India recovered from an innings loss in the first Test in Colombo with a 170-run win in Galle. Sri Lanka handed a debut to pace bowler Dammika Prasad at the expense of Nuwan Kulasekera while India returned the wicket-keeping gloves to Parthiv Patel, leaving out Dinesh Karthik. Sri Lanka: Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Thilan Samaraweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Dammika Prasad India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble (captain), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma. Aaron Kumar © Cricket World 2008