India take honours on opening day
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Modi Stadium, Kanpur
Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:G Gambhir, V Sehwag, RS Dravid, M Muralitharan
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 24th November 2009


It was a day of complete dominance as India scored a mammoth 417 for the loss of two wickets on the first day of the second Test to try and bat out the Lankan team out of the match. The Sri Lankan team chased leather through-out the day and not for even an hour looked like seizing the initiative from the Indian side.


Dhoni won an important toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat first on a track that looked a batting beauty. Sri Lanka was going into the match with three spinners and one paceman Welegadera with Angelo Mathews to share the new ball. It simply meant that the seamers had to strike early to make serious inroads into the strong Indian batting line-up so that the spinners can decimate the middle and the lower order. Welegadera very nearly got Sehwag dismissed when he succeeded in making him play a very wide ball. Sehwag trying to smash it to covers edged it but was dropped as Prasanna Jayawardene dived across and distracted Mahela Jayawardene who spilled the catch at first slip. Sehwag then tightened up his game and showed rare amount of patience as he began to play watchfully. The seamers did their best to tempt him as they kept the ball full and outside off, inviting Sehwag to drive, but he resisted after the temptation.


Gambhir meanwhile made sure that the Indian team did not lose their way as he kept the scoreboard ticking with some short singles and timely boundaries. After the first hour Sehwag began to open up and found the boundary ropes regularly. When the spinner came on the openers began to up the ante. Herath the first among the three spinners to take the ball and Gambhir went after him as he whipped the left-armer through covers, cut him past point and then stepped out to loft him over midwicket for three boundaries in a single over. Sehwag set his sights on India’s last time tormentors Muralitharan and Mendis as he tore into the two hapless spinners. Sehwag began the onslaught as he lifted Mendis over deep midwicket for a six and then thumped a long hop off the same bowler for another boundary over deep midwicket. To Muralitharan he regularly used his feet making sure the off-spinner did not settle into a rhythm.


Sensing the ineffectiveness of his spinners Sangakkara decided to keep Welegadera on one end while he rotated the spinners at the other end. Sehwag continued to play havoc on the Lankan skipper’s plan as he reached his 16th Test century. The openers bettered the previous best opening partnership against Sri Lanka between Sidhu and Prabhakar in Colombo in 1993 and also beat their own best stand which they put on 218 against South Africa in 2004 at the same venue. Sehwag continued to put his foot on the accelerator and finally fell against the run of play as he failed to clear the extra cover where Dilshan took a smart low catch. Gambhir went on to complete his eighth Test century with a fluent straight drive and then continued to accumulate runs ruthlessly. The Lankans could not employ attacking strategy to Dravid as the Indians were scoring runs at a fair clip and so Sangakkara had to slow down the scoring by employing deep set fields.


The pair added 137 in 33.5 overs and with every over passing the headache for the Lankan skipper only increased. It finally took an athletic catch from Muralitharan to end a marathon innings from Gambhir. The Indian charge continued though as Dravid and Tendulkar took up the mantle to push the Indian batting ahead with minimum fuss as the Lankan bowlers looked completely lost. Sangakkara delayed taking the new ball hoping to stem the flow of runs but his bowlers could not do so. The old hands combined to add an unbeaten 47 runs for the third wicket in 14.5 overs with Dravid striking the last ball of the day through covers to highlight the amount of dominance that India had over the Lankan team.