The Lankan batsmen had done all the toil on the Day 1 as they piled up 293 runs on the first day of the P Sara Oval Test. Starting Day two with eyes set on a mammoth total, the men from the emerald isle had things going just as the doctor had ordered. Within 12 balls into second day’s play they reached 300 runs with six batsmen still in the dugout.
Pragyan Ojha who after being a dud in the previous Test got some sweet revenge as he trapped Angelo Matthews plumb before the wicket, giving India its first reason to celebrate for the day. With the fall of Matthews the 89 run stand between Matthews and Samaraweera came to an end with the Lankan scorecard reading 330. Who would have thought that India would turn the Lankan tables on their head as the next five wickets fell like a pack of cards as India wrapped up the remaining batting firepower adding just 95 runs more. The bowling duo of Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha – both under constant scrutiny for their lackluster performance so far made a comeback as they ensured no further resistance from the Lankan tail as seen in the first test at Galle.
Signs were encouraging for the Lankan bowlers as the swing had been favoring the Indian bowlers. But Virender Sehwag made his intentions known – that for him it was just another ball to be sent beyond the ropes. With an all out attacking tactic Sehwag for a moment made his teammates confuse whether he was playing the shorter format of the game.
The Lankan bowlers had no other option than to target the extra cautious Murali Vijay who initially was just an onlooker as Sehwag made merry with the Lankan bowling. Vijay fell victim to a Malinga delivery, nicking one to Mendis. Out for a patient 35 ball 14 Vijay’s dismissal brought an end to the 49 run opening stand. The next plan in the Lankan scheme of things was to frustrate the man from Najafgarh with short deliveries outside leg to lure him into giving away to the man in Gully or Point. Matthews and Welegedera kept on with this tactic of theirs but were mercilessly punished with boundaries all over the ground, with Sehwag developing a special liking to welegedera’s bowling that lacked the necessary pace.
The hosts had their momentary shot at joy when they dismissed Dravid after he had scored a pacy 26 ball 23. But the next pair of Sachin and Sehwag batted with flair and collected runs from every corner of the ground. Tendulkar was quite amused to play anchor to Sehwag’s heroics as the duo plundered runs and remained unbeaten on a partnership of 88 runs at end of day’s play.
On second day of play Sri Lanka had piled enough on the board to keep the Indian batsmen in a sticky position but were unfortunate enough to run into Virender Sehwag who singlehandedly with his 87 ball 97 changed the fortunes India’s way as they piled 180 for two after 35 overs of play.
By: Soubhik Ray