India had a smooth morning session taking as many as four wickets to close in to an innings victory in the second Test at Kanpur. The only hurdle for them since a couple of hours has been Thilan Samaraweera who is unbeaten on a strokeful 54 (from 84 balls with 8 fours).
Sri Lanka resumed the fourth day’s play at 54 for 4 after following on. The overnight pair of Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews began banging the two Indian pacers. But their counter attack didn’t last long as Zaheer Khan induced a false pull shot off Mathews to produce a top edge which was nicely caught by a diving Dravid at gully. It was only the second over of the day’s play that India got the wicket of Mathews.
Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth lost their line and lengths and the runs were leaked for Samaraweera and Prasanna Jayawardene. Sri Lanka did not lose another wicket till drinks. Dhoni went for spin at both ends and it took a magic ball from Harbhajan to break what was looking like a potentially big partnership. Switching to round the sticks, Harbhajan floated one outside off to draw Prasanna in a forward defence and then got the ball to turn in slightly but sharply to beat the inside edge and sneak through the tiny bat pad gap to hit the stumps. Prasanna played out 45 balls to score 29 in a 6th wicket partnership of 61.
Next man in, Rangana Herath started off well with his sweep shots but missed a similar shot to get plumb infront of his off stump to a quicker one from Harbhajan Singh that drifted in with the arm. Muttiah Muralidaran entered the scene to replace him and blasted Harbhajan Singh for a six and three fours. It was only matter of time before Murali missed one of his big shots to get out. Pragyan Ojha got rid of Murali as the tail ender missed to connect a slog sweep and it was a clever arm ball that went straight through without any turn to hit the off stump. Muralitharan had helped himself to 29 from just 11 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes.
Ajantha Mendis hung in along with Samaraweera to take the match beyond the lunch break. Mendis resisted all the temptation from Virender Sehwag who was offering him 100-400 US Dollars to go for a six.