Viru puts India in command; 16 runs short of creating history | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Viru puts India in command; 16 runs short of creating history

Virender Sehwag closes in on a world record third triple century as India amass their highest-ever total in a single day in the third and final Test match at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai, reports Deepti Patwardhan. Murali has never been treated with such disdain: Mathews

cricket Updated: Dec 04, 2009 02:00 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

It was a performance that deserved a few minutes silence. Phew! We needed some time to recover from the hectic ride
Virender Sehwag and his accomplices had taken us on. But the thousands present at the Brabourne on Thursday were stunned not to silence but send decibel levels through the roof.

With only two Sri Lankan wickets to go, the crowd had lined outside the stadium in anticipation of the Indian batting blooming. But even they could not have predicted the massacre, especially given how the pitch behaved on the first day. They left after six hours of power batting, the image of one boundary getting blurred by the other. The beauty was difficult to miss even if you were a Sri Lankan supporter. Or maybe, the brutality of it.

In the morning, Angelo Mathews fell a run short of his maiden Test hundred as he tried to take on the arm of Sachin Tendulkar. Sri Lanka, after only 26 minutes of play on the second day, were bowled out for 393. India, making the most runs in a day in Tests, plundered 443 for one to take a 50-run lead.

When Sri Lanka ended the first day at 366 for eight, it remained to be seen who would prove to be the bigger monster on day two — the wicket or Muttiah Muralitharan. Both seemed lulled by Sehwag’s batsmanship. He scored the sixth double hundred of his career (including two triple centuries) and stamped it with trademark audacity. After all, that’s what you’d expect of a man who scored India’s first-ever triple hundred with a six.

Of the 284 runs he scored on the day, 202 came off boundaries. The numbers kept piling — 50 off 54 balls, 100 off 101, 150 off 130, 200 off 168, 250 off 207 balls — accelerating the scoring rate and denting Sri Lanka’s confidence and chances with every personal milestone. If he gets 16 more on Friday, Sehwag would be the first batsman to three triple centuries, overtaking Don Bradman and Brian Lara.

Sehwag, the star, shone so bright that even substitute opener Murali Vijay (87) and Rahul Dravid’s (62) efforts faded
into the background.

The Tamil Nadu batsman, who replaced Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order, though was more than just a sleeping partner to Sehwag. Though Sri Lankan bowlers were hardly incisive, Vijay kept his calm to score 87 off 121 balls (10x4, 1x6). The only blemish was when he was dropped by Rangana Herath, off Nuwan Kulasekara, on 67.

Herath though had his man, when he trapped Vijay leg-before as the batsman missed the line while attempting to sweep.

That, incidentally, was the only success for the Sri Lankans, whose bowling looked off the boil. A lot weighed on
Muralitharan and once the lead bowler goes for almost six an over and shows signs of dejection, it is bound to rub off on the rest of the team. Sri Lanka also had a poor day in the field, dropping two catches and there were numerous misfields.