India march towards victory

Sri Lanka have fought hard in this match, no one can question that. This Indian side have just been too good for them, and will take one of the most amazing batting performances of all time for them not to come away with a win.

India’s spin pairing, Harbhajan and Kumble, added 29 more to India’s mammoth lead, stand-in captain Virender Sehwag calling the innings to a halt after 5 overs in the morning.

The target for Sri Lanka was 509, and defeat stared them in the face from every direction. Upul Tharanga, on debut, playing with composure and resilience, as his opening partner Marvan Atapattu tried to. Given a life by Anil Kumble at gully, Mohammad Kaif took a fantastic catch off Harbhajan at short leg to give India their first breakthrough.

Defence was the name of Sri Lanka’s game, but after Sangakkara and Thuranga negogiated the Indian bowling up until lunch, but Anil Kumble, in his 100th test match, struck with 3 quick wickets, and Sri Lanka were deep in trouble. Bowling from wide around the wicket, a sharp turner to Sangakkara struck him plumb in front. Sangakkara’s fellow left-hander, Thuranga was the next of Kumble’s victims glancing another big spinner to a grateful leg slip. 2 overs and 7 runs later Samaraweera gave Kaif a somewhat simpler catch at mid-on, and Sri Lanka were reeling at 96-4.

Jayawardene and Dilshan did their best to restore Sri Lankan pride, or at least take the match into a fifth day. Using their heads and their talent, attacking when it was warranted and generally frustrating the Indians, they shared a partnership of 109. Demoted from new-ball duty, it was Ajit Agarkar who broke the partnership. A well-placed yorker was driven back to him by Jayawardene. Agarkar claimed the catch, and although Jayawardene was convinced it was a bump ball, which replays proved it wasn’t, he had to go.

Dilshan fell late in the day as well, edging an attempted drive to Dhoni. Sri Lanka may lose this match, but they will continue to fight to the very end against a better team, well worthy of their inevitable victory.

India 398 all out
VVS Laxman 104, Irfan Pathan 82
Lasith Malinga 3-113, Muttiah Muralitharan 3-128

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

India 316-9 dec.
Yuvraj Singh 75, Ajit Agarkar 48
Muttiah Muralitharan 3-90, Malinga Bandara 3-84

Sri Lanka 235-6
Tillakaratne Dilshan 65, Mahela Jayawardene 57
Anil Kumble 3-86

Sri Lanka trail by 273 with 4 wickets remaining

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