Resuming at their overnight score of 417/2, India continued with their good work courtesy another impressive century by Rahul Dravid and half-centuries by VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh. Sri Lanka struck back thanks to an excellent spell by Rangana Herath, who ended up with a five-wicket haul as India lost their last five wickets for a mere 29. The Indians, however, still managed to amass a mammoth 642. In response, Sri Lanka ended the day on a sedate 66/1, trailing by a huge margin of 576 runs. Tillakaratne Dilshan was the man out for the visitors.
Earlier in the day, Dravid was elements right from the start as he registered his 28th Test century and second of the series. In the process, the India great also crossed Allan Border’s Test tally to move up to number four in the record books – only Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting are ahead of him now. Continuing with the positive intent he has been showing since the start of the series, a determined Dravid led India’s charge on the second day. He went down the track fearlessly while pleasant drives and punches also kept coming regularly.
At the other end, Tendulkar also looked set for a big one. And when he was dropped in the 30s, it seemed lady luck was shining on him. He even celebrated the chance by dancing down the track and slamming Ajantha Mendis for a maximum. However, he did not last long after that. Going for a repeat of the six stroke, he holed out. Dravid, meanwhile, continued to go from strength to strength, looking almost impregnable. And so it wasn’t surprising that he was eventually out for no fault of his. Dravid’s old friend Laxman hit one straight back at Rangana Herath uppishly. The left-arm spinner could not hold on to the catch, but, as fate would have it, the ball disturbed the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Dravid having no chance to make it back to the crease. A crestfallen Dravid could do little but walk back dejectedly knowing all to well that there was a double century for the taking.
The dismissal of Dravid, however, did not stop the flow of runs. Having gotten over the unfortunate turn of events, Laxman and Yuvraj went about adding to Lanka’s agony. While Laxman brought out the fluent drives he is admired for, Yuvraj was at his murderous best against the spinners. Both Mendis and Murali, who have troubled the left-handed batsman in the past, could do precious little to unsettle Yuvraj as he raced towards his half-century. Having crossed his 50, Laxman also looked set for a big one till he was beaten in the flight from Herath. Laxman fell for 63, with the Indian score reading an imposing 613/4. From there though started a collapse of unimaginable proportions. MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and the rest of the tail failed to pick Herath and India folded up well short of 700.
India snatched back the advantage when Dilshan mistimed the first ball he faced from Zaheer Khan into the hands of debutant Pragyan Ojha. And though the Lankans fought back well, with three days to go they are in for a mighty battle.
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