Captain MS Dhoni hit an unbeaten century as India scored their highest Test innings score to take control of final Test against Sri Lanka in Mumbai. The home team declared on 726 for nine, 333 runs ahead of the tourists who ended the third day 11 without loss in their second innings. Earlier, opener Virender Sehwag fell agonisingly short of a record third Test triple hundred as he was caught and bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan for 293. The spinner ended with figures of four wickets for 195. He and his fellow bowlers could barely contain the home side's batting. Rahul Dravid, with whom Sehwag shared a 237-run stand, also fell inside the first hour for 74, but Dhoni smashed 100 not out, Sachin Tendulkar made 53 and VVS Laxman struck 62. The Indians need only a draw to win the series but know a victory will take them top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time. Sehwag, 16 short of that world record third triple century, was the focus of attention when play resumed in the morning, but the excitement turned to disappointment when Muralitharan dismissed him. The batsman had started cautiously, scoring just one off the first over from Rangana Herath. He added nine more to his tally when he drove a delivery from Muralitharan straight back at him, the bowler juggling the catch before holding on at the second attempt. Dravid showed aggressive intent by lofting Herath for a towering six, but he was snared by Chanaka Welegedara, the fast bowler inducing the drive and the edge which Prasanna Jayawardene held. On 487 for three, the task of continuing the innings fell to the experienced pair of Tendulkar and Laxman. The run rate, a heady 5.6 per over when Sehwag was at the crease, fell below the four-run mark as Laxman initially struggled, especially against Herath. Tendulkar had provided impetus by hitting Muralitharan for consecutive boundaries early in his innings and thereafter finding the boundary fairly regularly. Sri Lanka's bowlers then dominated for a short period immediately after lunch and were rewarded with the wicket of Tendulkar, who was bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara. Laxman continued to play attacking strokes but eventually paid the price when he attempted to hit Muralitharan over the top, but instead mis-cued and Kulasekara took a comfortable catch running to his left from mid-on. Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh both came and went at the crease as the India innings went from 591 for five to 615 for seven. But Dhoni remained. Partnered by Zaheer Khan and then Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, the wicketkeeper put on an unbroken 56-run stand for the last wicket with Pragyan Ojha. The captain, who had offered a chance while on four, smashed the bowlers around and reached an unlikely century with his sixth six. He then declared to leave the visitors to face the final three overs of the day. * with agencies
Virender Sehwag missed the chance to cement his reputation as arguably the most destructive top-order batsman in the modern game when he fell seven short of a record third Test triple century, against Sri Lanka yesterday. The swashbuckling opener had moved from his overnight score of 284 to 293 when he tapped a flighted ball from Muttiah Muralitharan back to the bowler who took the catch on second attempt. The dismissal meant he missed the chance to move above Brian Lara and Sir Donald Bradman in the list of most triple centuries. "It is a missed opportunity but I think there is always the next time," said a sanguine Sehwag. "I am very happy that I at least scored 293. I tried to take my time, maybe the ball was not there to be hit. I tried to take a single off that ball, but I misjudged the length and hit it straight to Muralitharan." Sehwag, 31, smashed 40 fours and seven sixes in his 254-ball effort, the second fastest double hundred and his sixth double-century in Test cricket. Twelve of his 17 Test centuries have been scores of 150 and over and he holds the record for three of the four fastest double hundreds. His strike-rate of 80 runs per 100 balls is also the best by any player who has scored more than 6,000 Test runs. The Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss paid tribute to the batsman, saying: "Indian fans tend to not fully appreciate his talent. His knock took the game away from us." Meanwhile, England won their one-day series against South Africa 2-1 after yesterday's fifth and final game was abandoned due to rain without a ball being bowled in Durban. The Test series gets under way on December 16 in Centurion.
Sri Lanka (first innings): 393 India (first innings, overnight 443-1): Murali Vijay lbw b Herath 87 Virender Sehwag c&b Muralitharan 293 Rahul Dravid c Prasanna Jayawardene b Welegedara 74 Sachin Tendulkar b Kulasekara 53 VVS Laxman c Kulasekara b Muralitharan 62 Yuvraj Singh c Mathews b Herath 23 Mahendra Singh Dhoni not out 100 Harbhajan Singh b Muralitharan 1 Zaheer Khan c Kulasekara b Muralitharan 7 Shantakumaran Sreesanth lbw Herath 8 Pragyan Ojha not out 5 Extras (3lb, 10nb) 13 Total (for nine wickets declared, in 163.3 overs) 726 Fall of wickets 1-221, 2-458, 3-487, 4-558, 5-591, 6-610, 7-615, 8-647, 9-670 Bowling: Chanaka Welegedara 30-3- 131- 1 Nuwan Kulasekara 20-1-105-1 Rangana Herath 53.3-2-240-3 Muttiah Muralitharan 51-1-195-4 Angelo Mathews 6-0-36-0 Tillakaratne Dilshan 3-0-16-0 Sri Lanka (second innings): Tharanga Paranavitana batting 8 Tillekaratne Dilshan batting 3 Total (for no loss in three overs) 11 Bowling: Harbhajan Singh 2-0-7-0 Pragyan Ojha 1-0-4-0