Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dilshan ton puts Sri Lanka on top

Tillakaratne Dilshan hit a century as Sri Lanka gained a slender edge on the opening day of the third Test against India in Mumbai.

Dilshan's 109 was the centre piece in a scorecard which also featured half-centuries from fellow opener Tharanga Paranivatana (53) and Angelo Mathews (86 not out) as the visitors, batting first for the first time in the series, took fairly good advantage of the conditions.

Harbhajan Singh, who found turn throughout, had threatened to wreck Sri Lanka's day, but the off-spinner had to be satisfied with a haul of four wickets as the visitors closed the opening day of the final Test on 366 for eight as they looked for a series-levelling win.

Kumar Sangakkara had won the toss and, from the turn which India's spinners gained, it appeared a good toss to win.

Dilshan traded his pyrotechnics for a more conservative approach in the morning, playing second fiddle to Paranavitana.

Although not quite fluent, the left-hander dominated a breezy opening stand worth 93, hitting seven boundaries en route to his first half-century of the series.

Harbhajan, introduced inside the first hour in the morning, immediately found considerable turn and he broke the opening stand by removing Paranavitana.

The left-hander, who had driven well, attempted a drive off the off-spinner but only managed an edge which flew straight to Rahul Dravid at slip.

Sri Lanka ended the morning session in the ascendancy, but India hit back in the afternoon session.

Sangakkara, scratchy at the start of his innings, opened up by driving Pragyan Ojha for a couple of boundaries, but the left-arm spinner landed one on leg and induced the edge which Mahendra Singh Dhoni neatly gloved down the leg side.

Mahela Jayawardene steadied nerves with a 59-run stand for the third wicket with Dilshan, the pair putting India's attack to the sword during their partnership.

But Sreesanth, in the midst on an excellent spell, broke that stand by removing Mahela Jayawardene.

The former Sri Lanka captain had attempted the pull against a short delivery, but hit straight to Virender Sehwag at fine leg.

Harbhajan then had Thilan Samaraweera caught at forward short-leg in the next over, as Sri Lanka's batting showed signs of unravelling as they slipped from 128 for one to 188 for four.

While wickets tumbled around him, Dilshan had moved serenely along, building another partnership with Mathews and helping the visitors gain the edge.

He went to 99 by clubbing Ojha for a six, the second of his innings, and reached his 11th Test century and second on this tour by easing Harbhajan to deep point for three runs.

Dilshan, who also crossed the milestone of 1000 runs in a calendar year, fell to a poor decision from umpire Nigel Llong, Harbhajan the lucky bowler.

Dilshan played forward to a delivery which hit the pad and spiralled to Murali Vijay at forward short leg, Llong ruling out although replays indicated there was neither bat nor glove involved.

The balance titled Sri Lanka's way again as Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene revived the innings with a 67-run stand for the sixth wicket.

India had leaked runs behind square and the duo had rebuilt quickly until Prasanna Jayawardene threw it away, launching down the track to hit Ojha over the top, but only finding Harbhajan at mid-on.

Zaheer then snaffled Nuwan Kulasekara in the final session for his first victim, while Harbhajan removed Rangana Herath for his fourth, but Mathews prevented the visitors from going under.
India: V Sehwag, M Vijay, R Dravid, SR Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni (Captain & WK), Harbhajan Singh, PP Ojha, Z Khan, S Sreesanth

Sri Lanka: TM Dilshan, NT Paranavitana, KC Sangakkara (Captain), DPMD Jayawardene, TT Samaraweera, AD Mathews, HAPW Jayawardene (WK), KMDN Kulasekara, HMRKB Herath, M Muralitharan, UWMBCA Welegedara

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