Sangakkara Century Puts Sri Lanka In The Lead

A patient Kumar Sangakkara century helped Sri Lanka move into a first innings lead on day two of the deciding Test against India in Colombo. Bad light ended play earlier than scheduled with Sri Lanka on 251 for six in reply to India's 249, Sangakkara unbeaten on 107. Resuming on 14 for one the Sri Lankans made a positive start to the day. However, Zaheer Khan provided India with a much needed breakthrough when he had Michael Vandort trapped in front for 14. Nightwatchman Chaminda Vaas looked very comfortable out in the middle and appeared to take a liking to the bowling of Harbhajan Singh, smashing him for two fours in an over. Kumar Sangakkara worked a ball from Harbhajan into the off side to bring up the half-century partnership between himself and Vaas. Sangakkara then hit a well-timed cut shot for three runs to bring up the Sri Lankan 100. After lunch, Sangakkara and Vaas continued to look assured at the wicket and just a few overs after the interval, Sangakkara brought up his half century by dispatching Kumble to the midwicket boundary. Sachin Tendulkar could not hold on to a difficult chance at backward short leg which would have seen the back of Vaas and as he landed he appeared to jar his left elbow and seemed to be in a great deal of discomfort. Vaas (47) looked on course to reach a well deserved half-century, however he failed to keep a cover drive off the ground, and only succeeded in hitting the ball straight to Sehwag in the covers. The wicket of Vaas left Sri Lanka 137 for three, and gave Harbhajan Singh his first wicket of the game. Mahela Jayewardene (two) replaced Vaas at the wicket. The Sri Lankan captain did not last very long as he was adjudged lbw off the bowling of Harbhajan. Jayawardene challenged the decision but was unsuccessful, and his team found themselves 141 for four, and their grip on proceedings appeared to be loosening. Sri Lanka’s 150 was raised when Sangakkara picked up a ball that was pitched outside the off stump by Harbhajan and smashed it to the midwicket boundary. After tea Sangakkara worked a ball from Zaheer into the off side to bring up the 50 partnership between himself and Samaraweera. The problems continued for India as Ishant Sharma appeared to experience some discomfort in his right thigh immediately after bowling a delivery and the tall fast bowler left the field and was not able to complete that particular over. Sri Lanka’s 200 was raised when Samaraweera worked a ball from Zaheer Khan to midwicket for a couple of runs. A valuable partnership of 60 between Samaraweera and Sangakkara was eventually ended when Samaraweera was caught by wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel, to give Zaheer Khan his second wicket of the innings. Dilshan replaced Samaraweera at the wicket, and he looked in good form early on as he hit Kumble for two boundaries in one over and Sangakkara soon brought up his century, when he pushed Harbhajan into the covers for a single. It was a very well constructed and patient knock from Sangakkara and one that had put his side in firm control of the game. Kumble, who had bowled quite superbly throughout the day without much luck, finally had his first wicket when Dilshan was adjudged out lbw. Dilshan unsuccessfully challenged and his demise meant that Sri Lanka were 244 for six. Sangakkara worked a ball from Harbhajan into the covers for two runs, as Sri Lanka moved past India’s first innings total and shortly afterwards, the batsmen were offered the light. Prasanna Jayawardene was unbeaten on one alongside Sangakkara, who faced 226 balls in all, striking 11 boundaries. The series is level at 1-1. Aaron Kumar © Cricket World 2008