x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Tendulkar holds fort for India

Sri Lanka bowlers shatter the top order with Sehwag missing his century by one run but Sachin's ton takes visitors closer to avoiding the follow-on.

Debutant off-spinner Suraj Randiv grabbed two wickets and Ajantha Mendis claimed one as Sri Lanka shattered India's top order on the third morning of the second Test today. India, resuming at the overnight score of 95-0, went to lunch tottering on 173-3 in reply to Sri Lanka's mammoth 642-4 declared at the Sinhalese Sports Club. Sachin Tendulkar was unbeaten on two and Venkatsai Laxman had yet to score, with India still some distance away from reaching 443 to avoid the embarrassment of a second successive follow-on in the series.

Prolific batsman Sachin Tendulkar scored his 48th Test century Wednesday and shared an unbroken 141-run partnership for the fifth wicket with debutant Suresh Raina to lead India's fightback in the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka. India was vulnerably placed at 243 for four at tea on day three needing 200 runs to avoid follow on, but it reached 382 for four at stumps. India just needs 61 runs to avoid follow on with six wickets in hand. Tendulkar who was dropped on 29 by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene off seamer Dilhara Fernanado, was unbeaten on 108 at stumps having faced 181 balls and hitting 14 boundaries and a six. It was the 37-year-old batsman's sixth Test century for 2010.

Raina made a half-century in his maiden Test innings and was not out on 66 off 133 balls, including eight boundaries. India started a strong reply to Sri Lanka's first innings score of 642 for four declared with openers Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay sharing 165 runs. But Sri Lanka's spinners Suraj Randiv and Ajantha Mendis struck back with three wickets for eight runs as the visitors went for lunch on 173 for three. Sehwag, one run short of a century, stepped out to hit off spinner Randiv and was beaten by the bounce to be stumped by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene. He hit 15 boundaries in his 101-ball innings and his dismissal was Randiv's maiden Test wicket. Vijay departed soon after for 58, trapped lbw by Mendis. Randiv then trapped Rahul Dravid lbw for three runs. Tendulkar and VVS Laxman shared a composed 68-run partnership for the fourth wicket, shoring up the innings before Mendis returned to trap Laxman lbw for 29 runs leaving India 241 for four.

Randiv has replaced Muttiah Muralitharan who retired with a record haul of 800 wickets after the previous Test in Galle. He returned bowling figures of 2-108 while Mendis had 2-92. The hosts' giant total was mostly due to Kumar Sangakkara's classy 219 and Mahela Jayawardene's 174, while Tharanga Paranavitana also scored 100. Sri Lanka won he first Test at Galle last week to lead the three-match series 1-0. * AP

Sri Lanka 642-4 dec India (first innings, 95-0 overnight): M Vijay lbw b Mendis 58 V Sehwag st P. Jayawardene b Randiv 99 R Dravid lbw b Randiv 3 S Tendulkar not out 108 VVS Laxman lbw b Mendis 29 S Raina not out 66 Extras: (b-5, lb-1, nb-9, w-4) 19 Total: (four wickets, 108 overs) 382 Fall of wickets: 1-165 2-169 3-173 4-241 Bowling: Prasad 10-0-53-0 (2nb), Fernando 21-0-83-0 (4nb, 3w), Mathews 9-1-24-0 (1w), Randiv 35-11-108-2, Mendis 26-2-92-2 (1nb), Dilshan 7-1-16-0.