In the run-up to the Test series, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara had spoken about the vulnerability of India’s bowlers and the need to put them under early pressure if the visitors were to win a match on Indian soil. At that juncture, it seemed he was indulging in mind games given the comparative experience of the Indian bowlers vis-à-vis their Lankan counterparts if Muttiah Muralitharan was taken out of the equation.
But on Tuesday, Tillakaratne Dilshan (112, 133b, 12x4) made them look like club bowlers as he toyed with the bowling at will. He reached his 10th Test century in just 120 balls and even his departure in the 44th over gave the hosts little respite.
At stumps on the second day of the first Test, Sri Lanka were 275 for three, 151 runs behind India’s first innings score of 426.
The placid Motera wicket had absolutely nothing to offer for the bowlers but what would have miffed captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have been their inability to stick to a game plan and keep the run rate down.
It was essential that Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma made the new ball count, but both were guilty of straying from the off-stump line.
Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana stitched an effortless 74-run partnership for the opening wicket before Ishant finally found the line and length to beat the latter.
Dhoni flung himself in front of first slip to grab the offering with one hand.
That brought Sangakkara to the pitch. The captain was content to play second fiddle to the in-form Dilshan, who was particularly severe on the spinners, scoring at over a-run-a-ball against them. Zaheer brought the hosts back in the contest with some smart bowling after tea, frustrating Dilshan and Sangakkara (31) with short deliveries and forced them into making mistakes.
The ball began to grip in the last half hour and the Indians would be hoping for a better performance on the morrow.
India fold up
Earlier, the hosts’ batting lasted for just over an hour with Rahul Dravid failing to add to his overnight 177. An inside edge off Chanaka Welegedara crashed onto his stumps in the day’s third over.
Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer tried giving impetus to the innings with some aggression against the medium pacers but the guile of Muralitharan was too much to handle for the tail as the hosts lost the last four wickets for just 41 runs.
Fernando comes in for Thushara
Dilhara Fernando would replace the injured Thilan Thushara in the Sri Lanka squad for the next two Tests, team manager Brendon Kuruppu said on Tuesday. Thushara had injured his bowling shoulder on the eve of the first Test match.
Sehwag injures finger
Virender Sehwag injured his finger during training and was away from the field for some time. However, coach Gary Kirsten said that the injury was minor.