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SL on backfoot in a rain-curtailed opening day’s play at SSC

Related Links : Link to 1st Test Scorecard | Zaheer Khan | Malinda Warnapura | India’s Tour of Sri Lanka 2008

India had the better of the hosts in rain-curtailed opening day’s play of the 1st Test in Colombo. Sri Lanka having won the toss and deciding to bat first are in a vulnerable position at 85 for 2 in the 22 overs that were possible. Zaheer Khan had a tremendous comeback as he got into his match rhythm comfortably. The left armer got the prized scalp of Kumar Sangakkara, who has always been a heavy scorer for Sri Lanka.

The bright part of the small session in the first day’s play for Sri Lanka was the confident unbeaten half century from opener Malinda Warnapura. The left hander is with Skipper Mahela Jayawardene, on whom there will be huge responsibility if the hosts have to put on a big first innings total. Warnapura is on 50 (from 74 balls with 6 fours) and Mahela on 16 (from 27 balls with 2 fours) before bad light brought an early end to the day’s play that was supposed to fit in 42 overs. The match could get underway at only 3:30 local time as most part of the day was robbed because of rain and a wet outfield. It is the monsoon time in Sri Lanka and it is likely to rain often during this Test Series. The overcast conditions provided the Indian pacers the opportunity to move the ball around. There was also just a bit of help from what was as an untraditional Sinhalese Sports Club wicket. The track was a dry and slow one yet Zaheer and Ishant got the ball to move off the track both ways.

The Sri Lankan openers – Warnapura and Vandort had a stiff challenge against the two Indian speedsters. A few short pitch deliveries from Zaheer had announced the aggressive intentions of the Indian team. And the desperate hunt for wickets soon saw Ishant Sharma drawing first blood as Vandort fished at a short and rising delivery outside the offstump. Dinesh Karthik, the wicket keeper complemented that good delivery with a stupendous catch towards his left. Vandort’s stay was just for 13 balls and India got their first breakthrough in just the 4th over! Zaheer at the other end was also equally dangerous for the Sri Lankan batsmen and the left armer produced an absolute beauty to ensure that Sangakkara didn’t have any significant stay in the middle. Zaheer had got one to angle in at good length leaving Sangakkara unsure about his footwork and the late away movement found the edge. The experienced Rahul Dravid took a smart low catch and Sri Lanka were pushed back at 57 for 2 in the 13th over with Sangakkara making just 12 (from 21 balls).

In between some lovely seam bowling from Ishant and Zaheer, there was a bit of positive strokeplay from left handed Malinda Warnapura which helped him to his 3rd half century. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene ensured that Sri Lanka didn’t have any further damage before it became too dark for any further play. The Sri Lankans as expected gave Test Debut to their mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis but the big surprise was including medium pacer Nuwan Kulasekara instead of the pacy Thilan Thushara. The Indians went with two pacers and two spinners and had to rely on Sourav Ganguly to bowl a few overs of slow medium pace under over cast conditions.

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