India under pressure in final Sri Lanka Test

Published: Friday, August 8, 2008, 16:01 [IST]
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Sri Lanka put in a disciplined bowling performance to send India struggling at 190-6 in their first innings at tea on the opening day of the crucial third and final Test here on Friday.

Debutant paceman Dammika Prasad did the early damage with a triple-strike, while spinners Ajantha Mendis bagged two wickets and Muttiah Muralitharan one to neutralise India's advantage of winning the toss on an easy-paced pitch.

Tea was taken immediately after the dismissal of Venkatsai Laxman (25), stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene off Mendis. Parthiv Patel was unbeaten on 11 at the break.

Left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir alone offered stiff resistance with a solid 72, his third successive half-century of the series. He hit 10 fours in his 128-ball knock before falling leg-before to Mendis.

India got off to a decent start when in-form Virender Sehwag and Gambhir put on 51 for the opening wicket, but their flourish was ended by Prasad, who took one wicket in his opening spell and two in his second before the lunch-break.

Prasad had Sehwag (21) caught behind and trapped Rahul Dravid (10) and Sachin Tendulkar (six) leg-before.

Sri Lanka also benefitted twice under a new experimental rule allowing players to seek a second opinion on umpiring decisions.

Gambhir and Dravid were initially given not out by umpire Mark Benson of England, but Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene requested the official to review his decisions.

Benson ruled the batsmen out after consulting TV umpire Billy Doctrove of the West Indies.

Tendulkar, who became only the third cricketer to appear in 150 Tests after Australians Steve Waugh and Allan Border, was unlucky when he asked Benson to review his decision after being adjudged leg-before.

The umpire was proved right this time after consulting the TV official.

The rule, on trial in the ongoing series, allows a batsman or fielding captain to request a review of any decision by referring it to the third official monitoring television replays.

Gambhir, who scored 56 and 74 in the second Test, reached his half-century when he firmly drove Mendis through mid-wicket for his ninth four.

He appeared to have steadied the innings with a 49-run stand for the fourth wicket with Sourav Ganguly (35) before Muralitharan broke the partnership to put the tourists under pressure.

Ganguly hit the match's first six when he lofted Muralitharan over long-off and then gave a sharp chance in the same over, the edge going past slip fielder Jayawardene for a four.

Jayawardene made no mistake when Ganguly edged Muralitharan again, holding a low catch to his right.

The series is tied at 1-1, with Sri Lanka winning the opening Test by an innings and 239 runs and India clinching a 170-run victory in the second match.

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