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Day 4: Now, India get ready for the kill

With 6 wkts down, even a miracle can't save the crestfallen Lankans. Scorecard

india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 10:23 IST

Sri Lanka closed in on their best total this series -- 247 in the second innings at Kotla -- but that was not good enough to prevent the last day's play in the final Test from being reduced to an exercise in finding out when rather than what.

Action on Wednesday was largely about the same question and for a change the visitors added a few pages to the script without being able to make an impact on the ending.

The Indians too came up with their own twists to the tale, with Harbhajan Singh opening the attack and later sharing the second new ball with Anil Kumble, after Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar had bowled the last few overs with the old one.

It didn't surprise, nothing should, after having seen Pathan flourish as an opening batsman in the previous Test. What did was that the Sri Lankans survived 85 overs in the second innings after facing just 63.2 earlier, on a fourth day wicket. They were still 274 runs (maybe light-years) away from the biggest upset in Test history.

"Would have been good to win today but it's a five-day game and winning on the fifth day is good enough. We have shown patience and perseverance and Test cricket is all about that," said Greg Chappell.

The coach revealed that the last-wicket pair was allowed to put together a 69-run partnership before declaring earlier because of the dew on the outfield. "We wanted things to dry up because our bowlers could have faced difficulties with a wet ball."

Day 1: VVS comes up with timely special 
Day 2: Bhajji strangulates Sri Lankans

Day 3: Bhajji, Yuvi put Lanka on mat 

Before sharing 58 overs between them, the Indian spinners got a feel of the track they would later try their tricks on. It can't be said that they were disappointed because the pitch had eased out a bit.

It was just that not everything went in their favour, especially a few edges, which at times eluded the fingers and also went through them. Two loud shouts were also turned down, both against Tillekeratne Dilshan by Kumble, for a leg-before and a catch at silly point. Umpire Nadeem Ghourie turned them down.

"It was very difficult against the spinners and it is also very difficult to look for something positive from this match now," said the batsman with fifties in both innings.

“We would have been in with a chance had we closed the day at four down. It's disappointing that two players were dismissed after having got half-centuries. Both spinners bowled well, but we also made mistakes and lost quick wickets, in both Tests," Dilshan summed up the Sri Lankan story.

A collapse seen in the first innings here and before that in New Delhi looked imminent again as the tourists, chasing 509 to win and better the world record by a distance, slipped to 96 for four from 84 for one in less than six overs.

Watched by elder brother Dinesh, who is here to watch him play his 100th Test, Kumble was looking hungry after bagging just two in the first innings. This was in the second session after he had been switched over from the end so far reserved for Harbhajan.

The studious master of leg-spin was making the ball talk in this spell and using his variations with telling effect. Kumar Sangakkara's wretched tour was complete with a faster one, while debutant Upul Tharanga's luck ran out when the bowler literally forced him to glance one to leg slip with a delivery that climbed and spun.

Revered for his relentless search for wickets, Kumble will surely have a good go at it on Thursday to make sure that his rival in turban doesn't walk away with the honours for the second time in what is being billed as his match.

Mediamen roughed up

Security personnel allegedly roughed up members of a section of the media after the day's play on Wednesday when they were trying to speak to the Indian players and the coach.

First Published: Dec 21, 2005 10:05 IST