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Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
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Galle Test

Sri Lanka Peg Back India

Muthiah Muralitharan and Dilhara Fernando strike twice each to leave the Indians in a spot

Sri Lanka Peg Back India
Sri Lanka Peg Back India
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. It's wise advice that holds true for a cricket pitch too. In the first Test between Sri Lanka and India at Galle today pundits and players alike were deceived by a green pitch that was far from the seamers' paradise that it had been purported to be.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka, who picked four fast bowlers this morning, an unprecedented number in a home Test, and then put India in to bat were saved embarrassment after failing to make early inroads, then they clawed themselves back into the game with the second new ball.

Sri Lanka had expected greater pace, bounce and movement from the pitch, but it turned out to be devoid of moisture and as flat as the blue Indian Ocean in the foreground. India started well, adding 79 for the first wicket before ending the day on 161 for five.

Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore defended the team's strategy afterwards, "We knew that the wicket was dry underneath, but it was a natural reaction to bowl first with the way it appeared this morning. However, it didn't do as much as we thought it would do and it was a real battle with Indian batsmen playing pretty well."

"In the end though I thought we came back pretty well and apart from the 20 minutes after lunch it was a good bowling effort," he said. "We kept the lid on the innings and we can still do really well tomorrow if we have a good morning."

The Indian openers had started circumspectly in the morning, but displayed great discipline and left the ball well, as they scored just 16 runs in the rain reduced 20-over morning session.

The run rate was miserly, but the home side expected wickets. Sri Lanka's new-ball bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando did not bowl poorly, but neither did they make best use of sultry conditions, generally bowling too short for the ball to swing

After lunch, however, the Indian batsmen realised that, contrary to their own pre-match suspicions, the wicket was far from treacherous and runs started to flow more freely. The pair added 79 runs for the first wicket.

Ironically, after all the pre-match gossip, it was the spin of Muralitharan that ended the partnership, Ramesh mistimed a drive and was caught at short extra for 42 from 127 balls. India though still went into the final session well placed on 95 for one.

Sri Lanka clawed themselves back in the final session, taking four wickets for 56 runs. Das was the first to go, caught at second slip having been dropped in the previous over. He had scored 40 in four hours.

Rahul Dravid, promoted to number four, became Muralitharan's second victim when he used his feet and tried to work the ball through the leg side. The ball ballooned up in the air off inside edge and pad and was caught at silly point for 12.

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Kaif, batting solidly at number three in his second Test match, added 31 runs. Then, just as the sun started to dip behind the horizon, Jayasuriya took the second new ball.

The result was immediate. Dilhara Fernando clean bowled Kaif with an inswinger and then had Hemang Badani caught behind, as the left hander flashed frenetically in the last over of the day, to the leave the game evenly poised.

http://www.CricInfo.com

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