India build up mammoth lead

Going into the third Test, Indian cricket was marred by the hoopla surrounding Sourav Ganguly’s exclusion from the squad, as well as captain Rahul Dravid’s sinister disease which ruled him out, and there was doubt that those might affect the on-field performance of the players. At the end of Day 3, it looks as if the Indians coped well; they are in the driver’s seat, leading by 479 runs.

Sri Lanka started the day at their first innings overnight score of 131-5, reeling from the destructive bowling of Harbhajan Singh yesterday. He mauled them further in the first session, picking up three of the remaining five wickets to fall, ending with figures of 7-62.

Anil Kumble chipped in with the other two wickets, to end the visitors’ innings at 206, thus gaining a lead of 192. Tillekratne Dilshan was the only Sri Lankan to notch up a decent score, of 65, while Malinga Bandara did provide some late resistance with an unbeaten 28.

Seeking to increase their lead to the extent of reaching a commanding position, India were rattled early on, being reduced to 34-3, which included the first-ball wicket of stand-in captain for the match Virender Sehwag, caught at third man off the bowling of Lasith Malinga. VVS Laxman fell soon after as well edging to Farveez Maharoof, and although Sachin Tendulkar looked to be getting set, he too fell victim LBW to Dilshan.

Yuvraj Singh stayed at the crease, while wickets tumbled around him with batsmen getting a start but not carrying on. He brought up his third Test half-century, before falling for 73, which included 13 fours and a six.

Ajit Agarkar made a breezy 48, helping the home side increase the lead beyond 400, before falling caught and bowled to Bandara. Tail-enders Harbhajan and Kumble annoyed the Sri Lanka bowlers till the close of play though, sharing an unbeaten partnership of 40.

With the lead already 479, Sri Lanka will have to chase a record total to square the series either way, if India declares early tomorrow morning or the final wicket falls.

India 398 all out & 287-9
Yuvraj Singh 75, AB Agarkar 48
M Muralitharan 3-90, CM Bandara 3-67

Sri Lanka 206 all out
TM Dilshan 65
Harbhajan Singh 7-62

India lead by 479 runs with one second inning wicket in hand

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