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Team India gear up for 2nd Test against Lanka

It was the visitors who gained a morale boost from the draw in the truncated Chennai Test.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2005 11:51 IST
N Ananthanarayan (Reuters)
N Ananthanarayan (Reuters)

Sri Lanka will start the second of three Tests against India on Saturday with renewed confidence after faring well in the rain-hit opening match against their hosts, who had begun the series as strong favourites.

India came into the series on a high after last month's 6-1 one-day series thrashing of Sri Lanka, whose experienced batsman Sanath Jayasuriya was axed due to poor form and a shoulder injury.

Sri Lanka have yet to win a Test in India in five previous trips, but after rain washed out 3- days of play in the first Test in Chennai it was the visitors who gained a morale boost from the draw.

Left-arm paceman Chaminda Vaas captured four Indian wickets on a dry, slow pitch to skittle the hosts for 167 all out, their lowest total against the visitors.

With champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan also looking sharp, Sri Lanka appeared to have regrouped.

Middle-order batsman Mahela Jayawardene then stroked a fluent 71 off just 80 balls on the final day to edge the visitors one run ahead of India's first-innings total with six wickets in hand, before play was called off as a draw.

Wintry conditions should help seam bowling in Delhi, which will also lift Sri Lanka.

Vaas milestone

Although coach Greg Chappell did not read too much into India's poor batting in the first match, his side are likely to be wary of Vaas and Muralitharan in the coming Tests.

The 31-year-old Vaas for once emerged from the shadows of Muralitharan with a staggering four for 20 in Chennai. He bowled 14 maidens in his 21-over spell and dismissed both captain Rahul Dravid and explosive opener Virender Sehwag.

The Sri Lankan vice-captain is two wickets away from becoming only the second bowler from his country to take 300 Test wickets. Muralitharan is the second most successful Test bowler with 570 scalps.

Indian fans will hope Sachin Tendulkar gets a hundred to surpass compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's world record of 34 Test centuries.

But the 32-year-old batsman, sidelined for six months until October following elbow surgery, has looked subdued in his last few innings and managed only a 126-ball 22 in Chennai.

India's national selectors will assess performances closely, with the tough Test tour of Pakistan starting early next month. Two seasoned middle-order batsmen, Saurav Ganguly and Vangipurappu Laxman, will be in focus after scoring only five runs apiece in the first Test.

Ganguly, sacked as captain in October following a prolonged batting slump and a row with Chappell, was retained in the Test squad after much speculation about his international future.

Another failure could push the 33-year-old left-handed batsman and India's most successful Test captain towards exit.

The focus is also on the incomplete new galleries at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground, although the pitch remains an unknown quantity with no international game played since it was relaid a few months ago.

First Published: Dec 08, 2005 13:13 IST