A perfect day of batting has Sri Lanka taking total control of the first Test at SSC, Colombo. Three centuries from the Sri Lankan batsmen has taken the first innings total to a commanding 422 for 4. The hosts will be looking to stretch their first innings total to as much as possible to bat just once in this test match. Malinda Warnapura, Mahela Jayawardene and the SSC King – Thilan Samaraweera scored hundreds as the Indian bowlers struggled to make any impact on the flat and slow pitch. Practically Sri Lanka have nullified any chances of an Indian win and now the pressure is very much on the visitors to save this Test Match in the next three days!
There was a full day’s play possible at the SSC Ground with the rain staying away although the threat was always there in the form of huge black clouds. Sri Lanka compiled as many as 337 runs with the loss of just the two wickets in the 98 overs that were bowled on Day 2. History was made on the second day as the newly brought ‘Umpiring Review’ was used by both the teams. India had two unsuccessful reviews while Sri Lanka had a successful one. The day started with Sri Lanka looking to continue the repair job from the 3rd wicket pair of Malinda Warnapura and Mahela Jayawardene. The two batsmen started confidently and the Indian pacers over tried without any success. Zaheer had a lot of problems with his rhythm and was often crossing the bowling crease to be no-balled. On one occasion, he had taken a smart return catch offered by Warnapura but only to be no-balled by the umpire. The Indians lost their way totally and the two spinners found a bit of turn but only on the slower side! The first big moment came at around 11:15 local time when Kumble had decided to have a taste of the Review system. The bowler was Harbhajan who had hit Warnapura on his pad in front of the leg stump after bowling from the leg stump. The angle was clearly taking the ball down the legstump and deservingly the decision went against the fielding side. Warnapura went onto register his second hundred before lunch. Sri Lanka were now sitting pretty at 205 for 2 in 59 overs with Warnapura on 110 and Mahela on 66.
After the lunch break, the breakthrough finally came India’s way with Harbhajan finding an edge from the left handed Warnapura which was taken nicely by Dravid. That ended the 155-run stand for the 3rd wicket with Warnapura departing after scoring 115 (from 202 balls with 14 fours). His dismissal wasn’t helpful at all in bringing the Indians back in the game as now it was Mahela who has got an average of 80 plus and Samaraweera with an incredible 100 plus average at this venue coming together. The two gave the bowlers hardly any chance to take SL to 305 for 3 in 88 overs with Mahela getting to his 4th consecutive hundred at this venue (also this was his 9th one at the SSC) while Samaraweera easing past a half century.
The Indians took the second new ball a while after the Tea Break which helped Ishant Sharma to produce an absolute gem of a delivery that sent back Mahela Jayawardene. It was a delivery that forced Mahela to play at that and there was enough away movement and extra bounce to induce a healthy edge to the keeper. Mahela Jayawardene made 136 (from 259 balls with 10 fours and a six over long on off Harbhajan). Minutes later the fielding side was celebrating as Umpire Mark Benson gave the new batsman – Dilshan out caught behind. But the batsman instead held his ground and asked Benson to have a review! Rudi Koertzen the TV Umpire was consulted and the outcome was that Mark Benson had reversed his decision in favour of the batsman as he had only hit the turf with his bat. To round off the day, there was a really shocking review asked by the Indians in the last over of the day’s play when Harbhajan had gone for an lbw shout to a delivery that pitched inches outside the leg stump. As such the offie was bowling from round the sticks to the right hander. This time the review hardly took any time and Sri Lanka ended the day’s play at 422 for 4 in 120 overs. Samaraweera is still unconquered on 111 (from 187 balls with 16 fours) and Dilshan on a shaky 20 (from 55 balls with 2 fours). The most impressive bowler for India was Ishant Sharma with 25-2-97-2.