Ahmedabad Test: Lanka reclaim lost ground

17 Nov 2009 by Mahendra Prasad in India Sri Lanka Test Series 2009

tillakaratne-dilshan_1A sparkling century by Tillakaratne Dilshan, preceded by some excellent early morning bowling by Sri Lanka ensured the visitors ended day two of the Ahmedabad Test with honours even. India did strike back in the last session when Zaheer Khan dismissed Dilshan and skipper Kumar Sangakkara in quick succession. However, former captain Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera put their heads down and added an unbeaten 85 for the fourth wicket to take Sri Lanka to 275/3 at the close of play. Earlier in the day, India were bowled out for 426, losing their last four wickets having added only 41 to their overnight score. Dravid fell without adding to his overnight score of 177.

If day one belonged to Dravid, day two was undoubtedly Dilshan’s. His ton made sure that Lanka capitalised on the advantage they had gained after bowling India out early on the second day. Dilshan’s effort was all the more commendable since runs flowed from his bat even when MS Dhoni did his best to negate the Lankan opener’s favourite scoring areas. The Indian skipper blocked, the point, fine leg and square leg area early on, but Dilshan did not fall for the ploy. Instead, he was satisfied to place the ball in the gaps and turn over the strike whilst waiting for the loose deliveries.

Dilshan’s opening partner Tharanga Paranavitana also gave him good support at the other end. In fact, he did the bulk of the scoring early on. In a sense, he was lucky to have got more of the widish deliveries as both Zaheer and Ishant Sharma concentrated on dislodging Dilshan, whom they considered the more dangerous of the two. Nevertheless, Paranavitana did his job, adding 74 for the first wicket before falling prey to Ishant for 35. With a solid foundation laid, Dilshan and Sangakkara carried on the good work.

Except for a few moments at the start, Dilshan was in full flow. When the boundaries weren’t coming, he was uncharacteristically patient, running quick singles and twos. And when the width was offered, he did not back off. Having seen off the pacers without much trouble, he was at ease against the spinners, stroking both Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra for boundaries early on in their spell. At the other end, Sangakkara was more than happy to play second fiddle as Dilshan approached his 10th Test century and Sri Lanka went into tea well-placed at 155/1.

Dilshan reached his ton post tea. But just when the partnership between him and Sangakkara seemed to be assuming extremely dangerous proportions, Zaheer showed his true class. Going for a hook, Dilshan was cramped for room and ended up skying a catch to Dravid for 112. Five runs later, Sangakkara too perished in a similar fashion, beaten for pace by Zaheer. Post the two dismissals, Singh and Mishra managed to gain a degree of control over the innings. But though both were effective, they failed to dislodge either Jayawardene or Samaraweera, who were prepared to grind it out as Sri Lanka ended the day having gained a slight upper hand.

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