Posts Tagged ‘1st Test

Muralitharan leaves India in tatters

India 159 for 6 (Gambhir 39, Murali 4-38) trail Sri Lanka 600 for 6 dec (Dilshan 127*) by 441 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

The SSC track was woken out of its slumber by Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, after Sri Lanka’s batsmen had given them a 600-run mountain for background, and the new-ball bowlers had tried to take the shine off the ball. Once the spinners came on, everyone was left either mesmerised or stunned. By the time bad light stopped play on the third day, Sri Lanka had reduced India to 159 for 6, still needing 242 to avoid the follow-on.

Full report to follow

Tea India 73 for 1 (Gambhir 34*, Dravid 14*) trail Sri Lanka 600 for 6 dec (Dilshan 127*) by 527 runs

And the run orgy continued. Tillakaratne Dilshan revelled in the SSC fun, scoring his first century in three years and setting up Sri Lanka’s declaration at 600 for 6, leaving India 54 overs to negotiate on the third day. The Indian batsmen started merrily, but after Virender Sehwag’s dismissal they became more circumspect to reach 73 for 1 by tea.

The day began with India trying to slow the scoring down and delay the inevitable declaration for as long as possible. But Dilshan, who resumed the day on 20 off 55 balls, had different ideas. He rocked back and cut the first ball of the day for three to cover, and then clipped the first ball of the next over for two. The outfield was slow, India soon employed an in-and-out field, and Dilshan set into a one-day mould, tipping and running, finding gaps in the outfield for two, and going for an occasional boundary. All through, only his head gear changed: from helmet to bare head to the floppy hat. The floppy hat was his only discomfort, falling off whenever he sprinted for quick runs.

The true show of intent came in the 10th over of the day, when Dilshan cut Zaheer Khan for a boundary and followed it with a Twenty20-style paddle. In his next over, Zaheer reached his most expensive figures in Test cricket, beating the 3 for 135 he had conceded against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 2005-06.

Both Indian spinners went round the stumps to Dilshan, with a 6-3 on-side field at times. There was momentary control, but Dilshan pulled and swept effectively, hitting Kumble for a four and a six in one over to move to 89. He brought up his fifth Test hundred with a slog-sweep in the over before lunch.

The only chance for India arrived early on when Thilan Samaraweera ended his innings tamely by guiding Zaheer to VVS Laxman at gully. Samaraweera would be kicking himself for not having converted his overnight century into a big one, as batting seemed easy on the sun-baked pitch. Harbhajan showed encouraging signs by getting a nice loop and offbreak going, but as usual the spin was too slow. There was enough time for the batsmen to recover even after getting beaten in the flight. And when Harbhajan did get the edge, off Dilshan, it landed short of Gautam Gambhir at leg slip.

While Prasanna Jayawardene missed out with 30, Chaminda Vaas and Dilshan added a quick 55. Vaas played two exquisite back-foot drives off Zaheer, in a spell where Sri Lanka took five boundaries in five overs.

After 162 overs on the field, Virender Sehwag and Gambhir finally got a chance to bat. The featherbed of a pitch allowed the pair to get into their stride quickly and Sehwag was especially aggressive, hitting five boundaries in the first five overs. But he threw it away when he failed to control a hook off Nuwan Kulasekera, which landed down Malinda Warnapura’s throat at deep square-leg.

Just before tea, the much-anticipated happened: Ajantha Mendis was introduced. In three overs, he got Gambhir to jab at sliders twice, but Gambhir had his way too when he feasted on two full tosses. With his last ball before tea, he beat Rahul Dravid with a legbreak, and presently the dull match came alive


Sri Lanka overcame the shaky start on the first day and resumed normal service, accumulating runs on the placid SSC pitch, and capitalised on reprieves to move into a position of strength. Mahela Jayawardene looked set from the moment his innings began shortly before stumps last evening and, by tea, he had scored a classy 105 and threatened to punish India severely for the opportunities they failed to take.

It was Jayawardene’s ninth century at the SSC and he now shares the world record for most hundreds at a single venue with Don Bradman who made nine at the MCG. Jayawardene’s has played his club cricket at the SSC and has scored over a quarter of his Test runs here: 2167 runs, another world record at a specific venue, in 20 Tests at an average of 83.34.

Jayawardene’s century today was preceded by Malinda Warnapura’s second hundred in his fifth Test. His was a more controlled performance: he was sure against the semi-new ball and his confidence grew as the ball got older.

Sri Lanka added 220 runs in two sessions today for the loss of only Warnapura. Their batsmen were rarely troubled and 55 turned out to be their lucky number. In the sixth over of the day, Zaheer Khan had Warnapura, on 55 at the time, caught and bowled off a marginal no-ball. His foot landed on the line and then just slid over. Jayawardene was also on 55 when a slider from Anil Kumble found the bottom edge. Dinesh Karthik, perhaps unsighted by the bat, couldn’t hold on to the catch. On 93, Jayawardene was beaten comprehensively – a rare event given his form – by a legbreak from Kumble which might have taken a faint edge. Karthik once again couldn’t gather it, and ended the debate right there.

Apart from those three chances, India’s bowlers did not have much going for them. Two boundaries in the fifth over of the day summed up the medium-pacers’ predicament. Jayawardene moved on to front foot against Ishant Sharma; the bowler consciously shortened the length but Jayawardene had enough time to transfer the weight on to the back foot and cut in front of point. He played an identical shot the next ball and the message was clear: economy might be the best form of attack once the ball lost its shine for the pitch absorbed the pace and offered only slow movement.

After Sri Lanka had scored 38 in the first six overs – Jayawardene contributing 23 -Kumble, the pick of the bowlers, brought himself on to replace Ishant. He conceded only 12 runs off his first 10 overs and India began to exercise some control over the run-flow. By tea, Kumble had bowled 22 overs for 47 runs and should have had Jayawardene at least once.

India’s only wicket came in the post-lunch session when Harbhajan, from round the wicket, made Warnapura play at an offbreak and got the edge through to Rahul Dravid. Thilan Samaraweera nearly played on against Harbhajan early in his innings but he settled down and unobtrusively reached a half-century just before the tea break.

Zaheer came for a testing spell in the middle session, getting reverse swing from round the wicket. His stock ball remained the one headed for the pads but he got the odd one to swing away. He even managed to beat Jayawardene with the away-going delivery. By tea, India’s medium-pacers had bowled 43 overs between them and that could be the reason that Kumble didn’t take the new ball.


November 2020

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