India third-time unlucky with a Lankan southpaw | cricket | Hindustan Times
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India third-time unlucky with a Lankan southpaw

On each of their last two tours to Sri Lanka, India has found it difficult to see the back of both openers in the first innings of the opening Test.

cricket Updated: Jul 18, 2010 23:15 IST
Amol Karhadkar

On each of their last two tours to Sri Lanka, India has found it difficult to see the back of both openers in the first innings of the opening Test.

While Sanath Jayasuriya scored a swashbuckling 111 in Galle in 2001-02, Malinda Warnapura emerged as a surprise package in the series-opener at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo two years ago with a sound knock of 115. What's worse is that India went on to lose both matches with big margins.

So when debutant Abhimanyu Mithun got rid of Tillakaratne Dilshan in the first hour on Sunday, some of the seniors who had featured in both the previous series would have smiled. But the trouble was far from over.

Tharanga Paranavitana, a southpaw just like Jayasuriya and Warnapura, rose to the occasion and recorded his maiden Test century to help Sri Lanka walk away with the honours at the end of the first day's play. When Paranavitana, who was injured during the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009, crossed the three-figure mark with a couple to third-man off Ishant Sharma, he followed it up with extravagant celebrations. After all, the 28-year-old had waited for almost 18 months for this moment since making his Test debut.

But he soon calmed down and batted on till bad right and heavy showers put an early end to the day. Paranavitana, who was unbeaten on 110, said he is getting used to the biggest test of a cricketer's character. "In domestic cricket I scored big hundreds but at international ldvel I couldn't do so in my first few Tests, but with experience I was able to do so and I am confident I can go forward with my game plan," he said.

Paranavitana also acknowledged the backing of seniors in the side. "From the time I came into the Sri Lanka side, I have been receiving a lot of advice from team members. I've also benefited from the fact that we are playing well together as a team."

Interestingly, Paranavitana, who is the 111th player to have played Test cricket for Sri Lanka, ended his big-knock drought in his 11th Test match.

The Indians, however, will be hoping that the trend of an opener's century leading to an Indian defeat in the opening rubber does not continue this time around.