Thursday, November 19, 2009

India fight to save test after SL blitz - fourth day!

India were waging a grim battle to survive the first cricket test after Sri Lanka went on a record-breaking batting spree on the fourth day in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

The Indians, trailing by 334 runs on the first innings as Sri Lanka piled up 760-7 declared, moved to 190-2 in their second knock by stumps at the Motera stadium.

Gautam Gambhir was unbeaten on 74 and nightwatchman Amit Mishra was on 12, with India facing three tough sessions on the final day to avoid defeat in the first match of the three-test series.

Sri Lanka, who have never won a test in India, will bank on the spin duo of world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath to exploit a fifth day wicket that has so far proved a bowlers’ graveyard.

Virender Sehwag smashed a typically robust 51 with seven boundaries in a first-wicket stand of 81 with Gambhir, before he holed out in the deep off left-arm spinner Herath soon after tea.

Rahul Dravid, who made 177 in the first innings, put on 88 for the second wicket with Gambhir before he was declared leg-before to seamer Chanaka Welegedara for 38.

Earlier, Sri Lanka compiled the highest ever total on Indian soil before skipper Kumar Sangakkara declared the first innings 40 minutes after lunch.

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene hit a monumental 275 and wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene remained unbeaten on 154 after a world-record stand of 351 for the sixth wicket.

The pair broke the 72-year record set by Australians Don Bradman and Jack Fingleton, who had put on 346 for the sixth wicket against England at Melbourne in 1937.

Sri Lanka’s total surpassed India’s 676-7 against the same opponents in Kanpur in 1986, which was the previous highest total in a test match played in India.

Mahela Jayawardene batted for eight hours in his sixth double-century that was studded with 27 boundaries and a six.

He was dismissed in the third over after lunch when he shaped to drive leg-spinner Mishra, missed the line and was bowled out.

Sangakkara declared at the fall of Dammika Prasad’s wicket, caught in the deep off Harbhajan Singh, leaving Prasanna Jayawardene stranded at the other end.

India claimed the third new ball from the start of the day’s play, but it failed to contain the flow of runs.

Prasanna, who was on 84 overnight, reached his second test century by edging Ishant Sharma to the third man fence for his eighth boundary.

Mahela, the ninth-highest scorer in test cricket, completed 9 000 runs when he reached 253 with a single to long-on off Harbhajan.

All the four frontline Indian bowlers conceded over 100 runs with Mishra being the most expensive with 1-203 from 58 overs and Harbhajan going for 2-189 from 48.4 overs.

India had made 426 in their first innings after being reduced to 32-4 within the first hour of the match.

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