Yet another spineless batting performance found India in the familiar dock in the second cricket Test match as Sri Lanka reached 52 for one in their second innings on the second day here today for an overall lead of 94.
Nearly all the Indian batsmen got a start today but, with the exception of Sadgopan Ramesh and Harbhajan Singh, the two top-scorers for the side, none of them could consolidate. In the process, they fell 42-runs short of the Sri Lankan first innings score of 274, being skittled out for 232.
India succeeded in dismissing Sanath Jayasuriya quite early for the second time in this Test but that was the only consolation for the visitors on the day after they were once again tormented by the formidable pace attack of the home team.
As many as four batsmen fell between 10 and 20 runs and Sameer Dighe was out for 28. Ramesh battled for 152 minutes for his 47 while Harbhajan Singh made a sparkling 44 off just 32 balls.
India had a positive start to the day's play with Harvinder Singh bowling Chaminda Vaas off the third ball to end the Sri Lankan first innings without the addition of any run to their overnight total of 274. Vaas was out for 42. But it was the batsmen's performance which remained a matter of deep concern for the Indians.
Opener Shiv Sunder Das was unlucky to have been adjudged leg before wicket by debutant umpire Tyronne Wijewardena when he looked to have clearly nicked a Vaas delivery. Das made eight runs with the total on 11.
But the remaining batsmen got out to their own mistakes and this time even a Rahul Dravid could do nothing about a straighter delivery from Vaas which found him plumb in front of the wicket. Dravid had started in a fluent mode, his previous innings obviously giving him a lot of confidence against the Sri Lankan pacemen. He struck Vaas for two boundaries through the mid-wicket region but was out the third time attempting a similar shot. Dravid made 15 and the second wicket fell at 36.
For a change captain Saurav Ganguly made a confident start to his innings. Ganguly promoted himself to number four and batted quite positively during his short knock. He middled the ball well and his timing too was good, giving the impression that the captain was ready to finally leave behind his horrendous run with the bat.
A couple of silky drives through the off-side for fours reminded one of the Ganguly-that-used-to-be but probably it was all too good to be true. One bad shot from the skipper and he was returning to the pavilion.
Going for another drive through the off-side, Ganguly was unable to keep a Ruchira Perera delivery down and Hashan Tillekaratne took a good catch at gully. Ganguly made a run-a-ball 18.
All this while, Ramesh, who made a very tentative start and was outscored by all his three partners, was gaining in confidence. He was beaten outside the off-stump, his nemesis on numerous earlier occasions, quite a few times, but after the dismissal of Ganguly, settled down to play some fine shots on both sides of the wicket.
He drove Dilhara Fernando for two fours, one through the covers and the other to long-on fence. However, the pick of his shots was a drive off Muthiah Muralitharan to the extra-cover boundary. Ramesh got good support from Mohammad Kaif, the two raising 52 runs for the fourth wicket. But Kaif got another bad decision and India were in deep trouble at 120 for four.
Kaif was surprised by a rising delivery from Fernando, the ball taking the top edge of his bat and flying to gully where Marvan Atapattu took the catch. However, TV replays showed it was actually a no-ball. Kaif's 17 came off 44 balls.
Fernando struck again in his next over, this time dismissing Ramesh with an outgoing delivery. Ramesh made a
feeble attempt to play the shot and the ball landed in wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara's gloves after taking an outside edge. Ramesh faced 95 balls for his 47 that contained five hits to the fence
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