India fighting to save first Test against Sri Lanka (Roundup)

Ahmedabad, Nov 19 ( India are fighting hard to prevent Sri Lanka from winning their first Test on Indian soil by giving themselves a fair chance of batting out the fifth and last day for the first cricket Test here Friday.

On the penultimate day Thursday, at Motera’s Sardar Patel Stadium, Sri Lanka reached an unbeatable position by amassing the highest total by any country in India. They declared their first innings at 760 for seven with Mahela Jayawardene (275, 435 balls, 27x4s, 1x6s) and Prasanna Jayawrdene (154 not out, 314b, 11x4s) putting on a world record 385-run for the sixth wicket.

At stumps, India were 190 for two in their second knock with Gautam Gambhir on 74 and night-watchman Amit Mishra on 17.

India, who are sill 144 runs in arrears, now have to bat the three remaining sessions to stop Sri Lanka from going one-up in the three-match series. The hosts were all out for 426 in the first innings.

Openers Virender Sehwag (51) and Gambhir gave a typical rousing start to the second innings, knocking off 77 runs before tea. The two stroked fluently but the stand was broken at 81 soon on resumption as Sehwag gifted his wicket, playing a loose shot off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

Rahul Dravid (38), who scored a 177 to revive India’s first innings from a horrible 32 for four, seemed to carry on from where he had left off. But he fell when he looked set for another big innings. He was trapped leg-before by Chanaka Welegedara.

Gambhir and Mishra then saw the last five overs without further damage.

Earlier, Sri Lanka posted the highest score on Indian soil, surpassing India’s 676 for seven scored against them in Kanpur in 1986.

The record partnership between Mahela and Prasanna erased the 346-run stand between Jack Fingleton and Don Bradman in Melbourne in January 1937.

Resuming at the overnight 519 for five, the two Sri Lankan batsmen hardly gave any chance to frustrate Indian bowlers.

Runs flowed as both Mahela and Prasanna drove and cut the fast bowlers with ease. The introduction of spinners didn’t slow down the scoring pace. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and leggie Amit Mishra had no effect on the two batsmen.

Mahela got to his 250 before lunch and also became the first Sri Lankan to cross the 9,000-run mark in Tests. By the lunch break, Sri Lanka opened up a lead of 282 runs but Mahela departed just after the break in his attempt to step up the run rate. When next man Dammika Prasad (21) fell, skipper Kumar Sangakkara declared the innings closed.