Dhoni’s century puts India on top
Ruthless India left Sri Lanka fighting for survival in the final Test
here on Friday after Virender Sehwag missed a world record third
triple-century by seven runs.
Sehwag’s 293, a robust 100 not out from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni
and a string of half-centuries by the middle order fired the hosts to
their highest ever total of 726-9 declared in reply to Sri Lanka’s 393.
The tourists, trailing by 333 runs on the first innings, were 11-0 in
their second knock at stumps on the third day on a wearing track at the
Tharanga Paranavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan survived three overs
of spin before close, but Sri Lanka face a daunting task to avoid defeat
over the next two days.
India’s total surpassed their previous best of 705-7 declared against
Australia at the Sydney cricket ground in January, 2004.
Sehwag 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.
A hush descended at the stadium where some 15,000 home fans had
packed the stands anticipating a world record by the swashbuckling
Sehwag returned to a warm applause for his 254-ball effort which was
studded with 40 boundaries and seven sixes.
Off-spinner Muralitharan’s first success after 21 overs costing 124
runs broke a second-wicket stand of 237 between Sehwag and Rahul Dravid
that had lifted India to 458-2.
Sehwag’s two triple centuries, matching Australian legend Don Bradman
and West Indian great Brian Lara, were 309 against Pakistan in Multan in
2004 and 319 versus South Africa in Chennai last year.
Dravid fell soon after for 74, edging a wild drive off seamer Chanaka
Welegedara to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene to make it 487-3.
Dravid, who survived a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket off
Rangana Herath earlier in the morning, hit five boundaries and a six.
But Sri Lanka’s misery under the hot sun did not end as the famed
Indian middle order flexed its muscle to lead a run-riot.
Sachin Tendulkar hit 53, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 71 with
Venkatsai Laxman, when he was bowled by seamer Nuwan Kulasekara soon
Laxman chipped in with 62 and Yuvraj Singh made 23, before both were
dismissed before tea on a dusty pitch that provided turn to the slow
Dhoni dominated the last session with a sparkling century that was
achieved with a six off Herath over the mid-wicket boundary.
The Indian captain, who was on 50 when the ninth wicket fell, hit 50
off the last 56 runs in the company of number 11 Pragyan Ojha, who made
Dhoni finished with six sixes and three boundaries, closing the
innings as soon as he reached his hundred.
All the four specialist Sri Lankan bowlers conceded over 100 runs
with Herath being the most expensive with 3-240 from 53.3 overs.
Muralitharan finished with 4-195 from 51 overs.
MUMBAI, Friday AFP
1ST INNINGS: 393
INDIA 1ST INNINGS
M. Vijay lbw b Herath 87
V. Sehwag c and b Muralitharan 293
R. Dravid c P. Jayawardene b Welegedara 74
S. Tendulkar b Kulasekara 53
V. Laxman c Kulasekara b Muralitharan 62
Y. Singh c Mathews b Herath 23
M. Dhoni not out 100
H. Singh b Muralitharan 1
Zaheer Khan c Kulasekara b Muralitharan 7
S. Sreesanth lbw b Herath 8
P. Ojha not out 5
Extras: (lb3, nb10) 13
Total (for 9 wkts decl,163.3 overs) 726
Fall of wickets: 1-221 (Vijay), 2-458 (Sehwag), 3-487 (Dravid), 4-558 (Tendulkar),
5-591 (Laxman), 6-610 (Yuvraj), 7-615 (Harbhajan), 8-647 (Zaheer), 9-670 (Sreesanth).
Bowling: Welegedara 30-3-131-1 (nb6), Kulasekara 20-1-105-1, Herath 53.3-2-240-3,
Muralitharan 51-4-195-4 (nb1), Mathews 6-0-36-0 (nb3), Dilshan 3-0-16-0.
SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS
T. Paranavitana not out 8
T. Dilshan not out 3
Total (for no loss, 3 overs) 11
Bowling: Harbhajan 2-0-7-0, Ojha 1-0-4-0.