Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sangakkara holds off India

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara struck a magnificent century to ensure the final Test against India in Mumbai would go into a fifth day.

Sangakkara hit an undefeated 133, his century coming late in the final session on day four and after Sri Lanka had slipped to 208 for six.

Nuwan Kulasekara, who contributed nine in a 66-run partnership for the seventh wicket, was unbeaten as the visitors ended the day on 274 for six, still needing 59 to even pull level with India's mammoth first-innings total of 726 for nine declared.

Sri Lanka, 1-0 down in the series, suffered an early setback and thereafter, save for a solid stand between Tharanga Paranavitana (53) and Sangakkara, served up another poor display with the bat.

Tillakaratne Dilshan departed within 27 minutes of play resuming this morning, the opener undone by a controversial decision by umpire Daryl Harper.

Dilshan lashed boundaries off Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan on his way to 16 before he padded away a viciously spinning delivery from Harbhajan, offering no stroke.

Dilshan had already employed the tactic twice in previous overs but this time Harper ruled him out, although replays suggested the ball would have missed leg stump by a distance.

Paranavitana was joined by Sangakkara and the duo batted patiently to help Sri Lanka regroup.
Paranavitana, who made his first 50 on this tour in the first innings, batted sensibly and fluently as he progressed towards another half-century.

He eventually reached the mark with a swept boundary off Harbhajan.
Sangakkara settled in at the other end and the two battled well into the first hour of the afternoon session when Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was brought back into the attack.

The fast bowler immediately secured the breakthrough, trapping Paranavitana in front with a delivery which swung in a touch and straightened after pitching on middle, presenting umpire Nigel Llong with a straightforward decision.

The wicket triggered a collapse as Sri Lanka's middle order caved in for the third time in two matches.

Mahela Jayawardene (12) pushed forward to a delivery from Zaheer and feathered an edge to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, while Thilan Samraweera ended a fabulous year with a 13-ball duck when he edged to VVS Laxman at second slip.

A busy afternoon session ended with the wicket of Angelo Mathews, the all-rounder flicking the ball with his glove to present Dhoni with his 100th catch in Test cricket.

Mathews' demise meant Sri Lanka had slumped from 119 for one to 144 for five in just 45 minutes before the tea interval.

Sangakkara had by then reached his half-century - his first in India - and the left-hander continued to wage a lone battle.

Prasanna Jayawardene, the last recognised batsman, lent assistance to Sangakkara for over an hour of the final session, the duo putting on 64 for the sixth wicket.

That stand was broken by Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner trapping Jayawardene in front.
Sangakkara batted on defiantly, clubbing Ojha for a six and four off successive deliveries in an over. He crawled through the 90s and eventually reached his 21st century with a boundary through midwicket of Zaheer.

The boundaries flowed in the final overs as Sangakkara thumped the second new ball around the park, all the while reducing the deficit to India's colossal total.

Ojha and Zaheer finished with two wickets apiece.

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