Galle: India's batsmen continued their crawl in the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, reaching 95 for one by tea on the opening day.Having made 16-0 in the morning session after being sent to bat on a grassy wicket, India plodded to 79 runs off 37 overs in the extended post-lunch period.Openers Shiv Das and Sadagopan Ramesh put on 79 for the first wicket before Muthiah Muralitharan terminated the pedestrian stand just before tea by removing Ramesh for 42.At the break, Das was unbeaten on 37 after a dour four-hour vigil at the crease. Mohammad Kaif was on eight.India hit just two boundaries in the two sessions. Ramesh hit the first after 27 overs when he on-drove Chaminda Vaas to the mid-on fence. Das then struck a full toss from Muralitharan through the covers for his first four off the 154th ball he faced.Sri Lanka's four-man seam attack failed to build on the advantage of fielding first in helpful conditions by sending down a wayward line. Only twice in the first three hours did the hosts come close to taking a wicket.Ramesh was lucky to survive a half-hearted appeal for a catch at the wicket off Ruchira Perera in the morning session as television replays showed the ball take a thin edge.Umpire Asoka De Silva, however, turned down the mild appeal from the bowler and wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara. Das, on 15, fended at a short ball from Dilhara Fernando after lunch and the ball lobbed just over third slip Mahela Jayawardene's outstretched hands. It was left to the off-spin of Muralitharan to gain Sri Lanka its first wicket when left-handed Ramesh drove lazily to the covers where Jayasuriya picked up an easy catch.When play began this morning, it lasted just 22 deliveries before a sharp shower drove the players back to the pavilion for 35 minutes.The Indians, who scored a solitary run before the interruption, managed just six runs in the first 13 overs and went to lunch at 16-0 off 20 overs. Earlier, 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 Sangakkara to don the gloves.India, without the injured Sachin Tendulkar, went in with six specialist batsmen in the first of three back-to-back Tests.
Copyright AFP 2001