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Determined Gambhir keeps Sri Lanka at bay in first session

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Gautam Gambhir kept his concentration levels intact to bat out the entire first session of the fifth and final day’s play to reduce the chances of a Sri Lankan victory. India lost just the wicket of night watchman Amit Mishra this morning and have moved onto 256 for 3 in 74 overs. Sachin Tendulkar is batting without any nerves along with the rock solid Gambhir.

Sri Lanka would have been off to a great start this morning had Tillakaratne Dilshan held a low chance at second slip off Amit Mishra. Chanaka Welegedara was the unlucky bowler who produced an edge but did not get rewarded. Mishra took complete advantage of that to see India through the first 45 minutes of play along with a slightly shaky Gambhir who was flirting outside his off stump but got away.

The Lankans eventually got their first breakthrough which came through an unexpected manner. It was a bad ball onto the pads from Mathews to Mishra who seemed to have played a decent flick shot but found Tillakaratne Dilshan diving to his right at leg gully to take a blinder. Mishra had done a fair job in eating up 51 balls, he did score a useful 24 with 4 fours as well. The most important thing was that Mishra had shielded Tendulkar from getting in at the fag end of yesterday’s play and also from the fresh start today.

By the time Sachin Tendulkar had walked in, Gambhir got back to his fluent best whether it was the defences, drives or even leaving the ball when he didn’t have to play. The left hander jumped out of the crease to loft Rangana Herath for a boundary to mid on to take his score to 98 and very soon glanced Mathews to fine leg for a boundary to register his 7th Test hundred. What’s really turning out to be great from Gambhir is that this knock is now the fourth hundred coming in a second innings!

Sachin Tendulkar’s arrival to the crease was a good thing for India as he put away anything that was slightly loose for runs. Tendulkar eased the pressure on Gambhir with 4 fours, two of which were cover drives in a single over from Muralidaran. The pair of Gambhir (105 from 213 balls with 12 fours) and Tendulkar (22 from 56 balls with 4 fours) have batted out together now for a good 18 overs. India needs to bat in the same vein through the next session and that should be good enough for a draw.

India are now trailing behind by 78 runs and there are 61 overs left in the day’s play. The homeside will have to bat out another 45 overs well and the match could come to an end once the last hour or the mandatory 15 overs are declared by the Umpires.

So far the bowling hasn’t been dangerous at all from the Sri Lankans and there is no reason why India should not be able to steer this for a draw. The only thing that one could see is that few balls have been staying low but not in line of the stumps. Sri Lanka are also suffering from a hamstring injury to Dammika Prasad who is still on the field though and is likely to bowl a few overs when the second new ball is due.