Sri Lanka finished with 366 for 8 on Day 1 of the third Test after a fluctuating last session at the Brabourne Stadium. The Lankans created a new record for the most number of runs by a visiting side in India in a day’s play. India will be happy towards the end though to be in this position after the Lankan batsmen had often threatened to take the game away from them with a flurry of boundaries. The hosts were also lucky to get the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan which proved extremely critical.
Resuming the third session at 213 for 4, Sri Lanka needed Angelo Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene to stay with Dilshan if they wanted to put on a big first innings total. Angelo Mathews stood tall and batted confidently to defy the Indian bowling along with Dilshan who got to his 11th test hundred immediately after Tea. The pitch eased up considerably and the ball didn’t turn as it was doing in the first two sessions.
India was in trouble as runs leaked in plenty through the blade of Mathews but were fortunate enough to break the dangerous stand by getting rid of Tillakaratne Dilshan (109 from 160 balls with 10 fours and 2 sixes) in the 65th over. Dilshan had come forward to a Harbhajan off break which turned and bounced to take the flap of the pad and fly straight to shortleg. The Indians instantly went up in appeal and Umpire Nigel Llong had erred thinking that there was either a bat pad edge or some glove from Dilshan. Sri Lanka got pegged back again at 262 for 5.
Wicket Keeper Prasanna Jayawardene came in next and played his shots to unsettle the spinners, in particular Pragyan Ojha. The visitors could notch up another good partnership in succession to go past 300. Just when the second new ball was almost due, Prasanna Jayawardene got carried away with a couple of boundaries and tried to loft Pragyan Ojha for a third one of the over but only to miscue his shot to mid on. That ended a 67-run stand for the sixth wicket with Prasanna contributing 43 (from 47 balls with 6 fours and a six).
India took the second new ball as and when it was available in the 81st over. Zaheer Khan took his first wicket of the match when Nuwan Kulasekara (12) nicked an away going one to Dhoni. Harbhajan rounded off the day in India’s favour when Herath played a ridiculous sweep against the turn to get caught at slip off the bottom edge. Mathews on 86 (from 119 balls with 13 fours) and Muralitharan (0*) survived the remaining few moments to take SL to 366 for 8 in 89 overs.
Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the bowlers with 29-2-107-4. The two pacers Zaheer and Sreesanth didn’t have a good day. Pragyan Ojha, the fourth specialist bowler wasn’t at his best in sticking to the right lengths. The final session produced as many as 153 runs in 33 overs at the loss of four wickets.