Galle: Injury-hit India struggled against Sri Lanka's bowlers on a seamers' wicket to make 163 for five on the dreary opening day of the first cricket Test on Tuesday.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Openers Shiv Das and Sadagopan Ramesh put on 79 for the first wicket after Sri Lanka elected to bowl in overcast conditions, but India was set back by the loss of five wickets after tea.Fast bowler Dilhara Fernando grabbed two with the second new ball before close after off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan had upstaged the seamers with two vital breaks.India's hopes of posting a competitive score rest on its captain Saurav Ganguly, who was unbeaten at stumps on 10. With him was Sameer Dighe on two.Ganguly's failure to win the toss meant India faced imminent danger on a grassy wicket that afforded both bounce and movement to the four-man Sri Lankan attack.But the tourists, playing a Test without their injured superstar Sachin Tendulkar for the first time in 12 years and also missing star batsman Venkat Sai Laxman, were let off early by wayward bowling.The first two sessions produced cricket in slow motion as the batsmen struggled to put bat to ball and the bowlers failed to pick up wickets. India, determined not to lose early wickets, made just 16 runs from 20 overs in the first session and crawled to 95 for one by tea.Das hit 40 during a four-hour vigil at the crease and left-handed Ramesh made 42 before Muralitharan gave Sri Lanka the initial break though after lunch.Muralitharan flighted one to Ramesh who drove lazily to the covers where Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya picked up an easy catch. The next wicket came after tea when Das edged a rising ball from Chaminda Vaas to Jayasuriya at first slip.Mahela Jayawardene then ran back from silly point to pick up a bat-pad chance from Rahul Dravid off Muralitharan. Mohammad Kaif, playing only his second Test, hit a defiant 37 before he was bowled by Fernando, who then had Hemang Badani caught behind for six."It was not easy batting out there," Ganguly said. "It is unfortunate the middle order did not build on the good work of the openers. "It is now up to the later batsmen to put up a decent score."Jayasuriya was disappointed that Sri Lanka did not have more wickets in the bag. "We did not bowl well at the start when conditions suited the bowlers," he said. "But we made up towards the end."Play was extended by an hour to accommodate 85 of the stipulated 90 overs after play was interrupted twice, the first time after just 22 deliveries were bowled in the match.The entire day's play, watched by some 4,000 spectators, produced just seven boundaries on the slow outfield at the Galle International Stadium.Sri Lanka added a fourth seamer, Suresh Perera, in the line-up to make use of the helpful conditions.Perera came in for wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwitharana, leaving Kumar Sangakkara to don the gloves. India went in with six specialist batsmen in the first of three back-to-back Tests.
Copyright AFP 2001
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