Milestone for Dravid as India lashes Sri Lanka

Rahul Dravid struck his 28th century and Zaheer Khan picked a wicket off the first ball as India tightened their grip on the second Test against Sri Lanka here on Wednesday.

Dravid smashed 15 fours and a six in his 144-run knock to guide India to an imposing 642 in their first innings while Yuvraj Singh and Venkatsai Laxman also joined in the run-feast with half-centuries.

In reply, Sri Lanka had reached 66-1 by close on the second day, trailing India by 576 runs with nine wickets in hand.

Tharanga Paranavitana and captain Kumar Sangakkara were both unbeaten on 30 when stumps were drawn for the day.

Sri Lanka’s innings began on a shaky note with in-form opener Tillakaratne Dilshan edging left-arm fast bowler Zaheer to be caught by debutant Pragyan Ojha at mid-on.

But Paranavitana and Sangakkara saw off some spirited bowling by India in fading light to ensure no further setbacks.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath took 5-121 to help Sri Lanka bowl out India shortly after tea but by then the hosts had ensured a huge first-innings total.

Laxman (63) hit five fours on the way to his 41st Test half-century while Yuvraj cracked four boundaries and two sixes in his 67-run knock to enthrall a strong 25 000 crowd at the Green Park stadium.

The pair also shared 102 runs for the fifth wicket before Laxman was caught by Dilshan off Herath.

Herath struck again twice, bowling Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh through the gate to bring some cheer to the Sri Lankan camp in the post-lunch session.

Dravid, who scored 177 in the drawn first Test at Ahmedabad, shared 94 runs for the third wicket with Sachin Tendulkar (40) to build on India’s overnight score of 417-2.

He was the third Indian batsman to score a century after Gautam Gambhir (167) and Virender Sehwag (131) put on 233 runs for the opening wicket to lay the platform for a huge first innings total.

Dravid, nicknamed the ”Wall” for his technically solid batting, reached his 28th century with an elegantly-driven four off paceman Chanaka Welegedara to the mid-off boundary.

The batsman is now ninth in the list of all-time century makers, surpassing Australia’s retired captain Allan Border and Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene, who both have 27 centuries against their names.

Dravid also overtook Border (11 174) to become the fourth highest Test scorer with 11 267 runs behind Tendulkar, West Indies’ Brian Lara and Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.

Sri Lanka, seeking their first-ever win on Indian soil, tasted success early in the morning session when Mendis foxed Tendulkar.

Tendulkar, dropped on 30 by Dilshan, lofted Mendis for a six but fell in the same over by holing out to Thilan Samaraweera at mid-off.

Dravid was run out in a bizarre fashion, with Herath managing to hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end after deflecting a sharp drive from Laxman.

The third and final Test begins in Mumbai on December 2. — AFP



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Abhaya Srivastava
Abhaya Srivastava is Agence France Presses South Asia special correspondent.

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