COLOMBO // Ajantha Mendis checked India with a six-wicket haul as Sri Lanka bundled out the tourists for 329 and then replied with 215 for five on the second day of the second Test at the Galle International stadium today. Mendis finished with figures of six for 117 as India lost the remaining five wickets for just 51 runs with opener Virender Sehwag unbeaten on 201, made with the help of 22 fours and four sixes in more than five hours of batting. Mendis caused the slide in the morning session when he had VVS Lakshman caught by Thilan Samaraweera at mid-wicket for 39 followed by the wicket of Dinesh Karthik to expose the Indian tailenders, who fell without resistance while Muttiah Muralitharan picked up two wickets.
Mendis claimed he did not do anything special but was happy to take his first five-wicket haul in only his second game. "I knew the Indians had a plan to attack me but I did not think too much about it. I knew that if I keep to a good line and length I could get the wickets. It's hard to say how the pitch will play from now on," said Mendis. The Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh grabbed four wickets to put India back in the match after Sri Lanka threatened to take the game way reaching an imposing 137 for on before the collapse.
Harbhajan triggered the reversal when he had Malinda Warnapura caught by Gautam Gambhir at short cover followed by the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara in his following over with a return catch. The off-spinner then had the middle order batsmen Thilan Samaraweera and Tillekaratne Dilshan in one over before skipper Mahela Jayawardene and wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene survived 35 minutes into the close of the day. Harbhajan said India had done well to curtail the Sri Lankan batsmen but the morning session on the third day will be crucial.
"The first hour will be important to put ourselves in a better position and if I can bowl the way I bowled then we can restrict Sri Lanka. All you need is to bowl in the right areas with the right field setting." Sehwag's double hundred was the highlight of the visitor's inning. The dashing opener accounted for more than 60 per cent of his team's runs and became only the second Indian batsman to carry his bat through the inning after Sunil Gavaskar. He also surpassed the 5,000-run mark in Test cricket.