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Mendis spins out India for 291 in warm-up match

Yuvraj Singh marked his return to form with a sparkling century but a batting disaster, sparked by Ajantha Mendis' six wickets haul, left India short of follow-on mark at close on an eventful second day of their warm-up game against Sri Lanka Board President's XI in Colombo on Wednesday. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Jul 15, 2010 00:07 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times

In great teams, when the bowling has an off day, the batting usually comes through to make up, or vice versa. In India’s case, though, the batsmen, barring Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order and Yuvraj Singh low down, simply carried on the mediocre work done by the bowlers.

Yuvraj Singh (118) and Gautam Gambhir’s (89) added 143 for the fifth wicket, but India still fell well short of the follow-on mark of 364 to fold up for 291. The SL President’s XI added 82 runs to their first-innings lead before declaring their innings at 514 for nine.

As was the case during India’s Test series in Sri Lanka two years ago, Ajantha Mendis (6-67) was the chief wrecker, destroying the middle order.

When skipper Thilan Samaraweera threw the ball to Mendis in the 15th over, India were 67 for 2, with Virender Sehwag (18) and Rahul Dravid (11) wasting an opportunity to spend some valuable time at the crease before the first Test.

Both succumbed to the swing of Chanaka Welegedara, who put himself ahead of his new-ball partner Dilhara Fernando for the second seamer’s slot in Galle.

Mendis got lucky off the second ball he bowled. It was his trademark carrom ball which rapped Sachin Tendulkar’s back leg after the master failed to read it. Though the ball was clearly going to miss the off stump, the umpire upheld the appeal to boost Mendis’s chances of forcing his way into the squad for the second Test after being left out for the first.

In came VVS Laxman, who couldn’t stem the rot either, edging two of the first four balls he faced. Since Laxman had played them with soft hands, both landed well ahead of the first slip.

But Laxman ran out of luck in Mendis’ third over when he edged one straight into Prasanna Jayawardene’s gloves behind the wicket.

Then came the brightest patch for the Indian team as Yuvraj and Gambhir put together a solid partnership. Though Gambhir was timing the ball soundly, he was lucky to have survived early on as he was given lives on 17, 22 and 36.

Yuvraj, however, lofted Mendis over the long-on boundary on to the street soon after he took guard.

From there on, the southpaw did not look back till he missed a slog sweep off offie Sachithra Senanayake.

The knock confirmed that the No 6 slot belonged to Yuvraj, who was dropped from last month’s Asia Cup on disciplinary grounds.

However, just when Yuvraj and Gambhir were set to bat on till the end of day’s play, Gambhir threw it away.

Despite misreading the flight of a Mendis delivery, the opener went through with an on-drive. Upul Tharanga ran a few steps back to complete a neat catch.

Soon after, Mahendra Singh Dhoni glanced Senanayake straight into Thilina Kandamby’s palms at leg gully. And once Yuvraj perished, all hopes of a respectable Indian total went up in the air.

First Published: Jul 15, 2010 00:03 IST