x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sehwag hopes for the rain

The batsman said his team hope rain will return to help them try to save the first Test after Lasith Malinga's lethal spell edged Sri Lanka closer to a famous win.

GALLE, SRI LANKA // Virender Sehwag said his team hope rain will return to help them try to save the first Test after Lasith Malinga's lethal three-wicket spell edged Sri Lanka closer to a famous win at the end of day four yesterday. The visitors, after being forced to follow on, reached stumps at 181 for five at stumps, needing 63 more just to make Sri Lanka bat again and avoid defeat by an innings.

They have five second-innings wickets in hand and a day's play remaining. With India's last recognised batting pair at the crease, Sehwag said his team hoped that rain would return to help them try to save the match. The second day was lost to rain. "It's good in Test cricket we are getting results after one day's loss but it's bad for India to be on the losing side," the opening batsman, who made 31, said.

"Hopefully, MS [Dhoni] and VVS Laxman can play and we are hoping that maybe after lunch rain will come and the match is over as a draw." Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, said his team are determined to claim a result, after two innings defeats to India at the end of last year. "We are happy with the position we are in," Bayliss said. "We realise that there is still some hard work to be done," he however added as a note of caution.

Earlier, Muttiah Muralitharan, the retiring off-spinner, bagged his 67th five-wicket haul to dismiss India for 276 in their first innings in reply to Sri Lanka's 520 for eight. "It's the first time I've seen him with a bit of emotion after taking five wickets, throwing his hands in the air," Bayliss said. "We all hope he finishes it off just as well." Trapped lbw by a quick yorker from Malinga, Sachin Tendulkar, the India batsman, fell 16 runs shy of a century in five successive Tests this year.

* Agency