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Shewag, Gambhir help India reach 214-4

Sri Lanka snapped up four quick wickets during a dramatic final session of play to leave the touring Indian team at 214 for 4 wickets in their fist innings on the opening day of the second test match which got underway at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.

After having gone through the entire first session wicketless the Lankans came back strongly late in the evening to grab all the honours with Chaminda Vaas and Ajantha Mendis leading the way.

The pace spin combination delivered a tremendous blow to the visitors by capturing two wickets each through some splendid bowling. First it was Mendis who came into the limelight by removing Gambhir and Rahul Dravid in successive overs. Mendis has now dismissed Dravid on all three occasions in the current series.

Vaas followed up with a similar performance with a controlled spell of bowling that earned him the key wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly in the same over.

Earlier the Indian team took their first step towards erasing the bitter memories of the opening test by making a flying start through their openers Virender Sehwag and Gautham Gambhir.

The experienced pair put behind them the debacle at the SSC grounds and posted a century partnership to reach an impressive 151 for no loss during the opening session after skipper Anil Kumble had won the toss and elected to bat first.

However their hopes of piling up a big first innings total were shattered following a heavy shower during the lunch interval that continued for nearly one hour.

The covers were brought in immediately but it took almost three hours for the ground staff to clear the outfield before the game recommenced at 4.30 p.m. following two inspections by the umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Doctrove.

Both Sehwag and Gambhir settled down well to play their best part of cricket on their tour after having survived the initial one hour that produced some anxious moments for the batsmen. In fact Gambhir could consider himself rather fortunate because he was dropped by Kumar Sangakkara while fielding at first slip.

Gambhir had gone for the cut shot and the ball flew off the outside edge straight into the hands of Sangakkara. But wicket keeper Prasanna Jayawardena dived across with his left glove outstretched and that certainly distracted Sangakkara who had taken his eyes off the ball.

Gambhir of course did not last long after the resumption of play and became Ajantha Mendis’ first victim after the Indian opener had compiled a painstaking half century with eight boundaries.

But more importantly he was able to give India a good start with an opening stand of 167 runs from 134 minutes and 31.5 overs.

The pair also missed out on a landmark as they fell short by just five runs from erasing the previous best opening stand between the two teams - 171 runs by Manoj Prabhakar and Navjot Sidhu at the SSC grounds in 1993.

Sehwag went on to reach his 15th test hundred from just 87 deliveries with his 15th boundary having hoisted left arm seamer Chaminda Vaas for his second six in the same over.

The right hander performed a similar effort against the bowling of Ajantha Mendis who conceded 37 runs from his first spell of six overs.

Sehwag remained unbeaten on 128 when bad light halted play early with V. V. S. Laxman batting with him on 13. The match will commence at 9.45 a.m today.

INDIA - 1ST INNINGS

G. Gambhir lbw b Mendis			 56
V. Sehwag not out			128
R. Dravid c Warnapura b Mendis		  2
S. Tendulkar lbw b Vaas 		  5
S. Ganguly c P Jayawardene b Vaas 	  0
V. Laxman not out			 13

EXTRAS (LB-4, W-6)			10

TOTAL (four wickets)			214

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-167, 2-173, 3-178, 4-178
BOWLING:Vaas 	14-1-57-2, Kulasekara 8-1-40-0 (6-w), Mendis
		14-1-74-2, Muralitharan 8.3-0-39-0

To bat: K.Karthik, A.Kumble, H.Singh, Z.Khan, I.Sharma
Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene, M. Vandort, M. Warnapura, K. Sangakkara, T. Samaraweera, T. Dilshan,
	   P. Jayawardene, C.Vaas, M. Muralitharan, A. Mendis, N. Kulasekara

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