Gambhir century raises India’s hope of saving first Test (Lunch Report)

Ahmedabad, Nov 20 ( Opener Gautam Gambhir’s fine century on the fifth day raised India’s hope of saving the first cricket Test and prevent Sri Lanka from winning their first Test on Indian soil here Friday.

At lunch, India were 256 for three in the second innings with Gambhir batting on 105 and Sachin Tendulkar on 22 as the hosts reduced the deficit to just 78 runs and are looking to bat out the next two sessions to draw the match at Motera’s Sardar Patel Stadium.

Sri Lanka declared their first innings at 760 for seven in reply to India’s 426.

Resuming at the overnight score of 190 for two on the final day, India were on the defensive mode right from the start and scored at a painstaking pace, with 66 runs coming off 29 overs in the first session.

Gambhir and nightwatchman Amit Mishra (24) didn’t take any chance on the lifeless track and were happy with their defensive strategy to keep the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay.

Mishra played well for his career-best score and was dismisssed after Tillekaratne Dilshan took a diving catch, jumping to his right off Angelo Matthews.

At the start of the day, Sri Lanka suffered a crucial blow as fast bowler Dammika Prasad was not able to bowl due to a hamstring injury. Matthews bowled well in his absence with some variation on the dead track.

Gambhir, however, controlled his natural instincts and played an innings that reminded many of his match saving 137 against New Zealand in Napier earlier this year. He took some time to get to his 90s, but then hit three fours to get his third consecutive century and the seventh overall.