Saturday, November 28, 2009

India thrash Sri Lanka to open 1-0 series lead

KANPUR, India (Reuters) - India crushed Sri Lanka by an innings and 144 runs in the second test on Friday to take a 1-0 lead in their three-match series.

The margin of victory was India's greatest over Sri Lanka, surpassing the previous best of an innings and 119 runs in Lucknow in 1994. It was also the hosts 100th test triumph.

Forced to follow on after a first-innings collapse, Sri Lanka were all out for 269 in their second innings before tea on the fourth day at the Green Park ground.

Sri Lanka were 206-8 at lunch and although the visitors rattled up 149 runs in the morning and staved off defeat well into the afternoon, they were not even close to making India bat again after the hosts piled up 642 in their first innings.

Middle-order batsman Thilan Samaraweera was the only Sri Lankan batsmen to score a half-century in the match, remaining unbeaten on 78 when the final wicket fell.

Indian off spinner Harbhajan Singh led the bowling after Sri Lanka resumed on their overnight 57-4, finishing with figures of 3-98. He took five wickets in the match.

Samaraweera hit his 21st test fifty and added 73 runs for the ninth wicket with Ajantha Mendia (27) before the hosts wrapped up proceedings in the next over.

Fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth's six-wicket heroics on the third day had helped dismiss Sri Lanka for a dismal 229 in the first innings and hand India a winning 413-run lead.

He returned match figures of 6-122 and was rewarded with the man-of-the-match award to cap a splendid test comeback after 19 months away from the longest form of cricket.

Left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan put India firmly on the front foot early on Friday when he removed all-rounder Angelo Mathews (15) in the second over.

Mathews hit Zaheer for three fours in a row as he pitched up but the bowler forced him into miscuing a pull two balls later and Rahul Dravid took a diving catch at gully.

Prasanna Jayawardene added 61 runs for the sixth wicket with Samaraweera in a show of resistance until Harbhajan bowled him for 29, with a sharp off-break that sneaked in between bat and pad.

The spinner also trapped Rangana Herath lbw for 13 before Muttiah Muralitharan, who blasted a quickfire 29 runs, fell to left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha next to make it 191-8.

The experienced Samaraweera dug in to frustrate the bowlers and put Sri Lanka's poor batting effort on a slow pitch in perspective.

He hit 11 fours and held firm for 19.3 overs with Mendis until occasional left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh provided the breakthrough, trapping the tailender lbw with a delivery that kept low.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ohja sealed victory by having last man Chanaka Welegedara caught and bowled for four runs to sign off a good test debut with four wickets.

The first test in Ahmedabad ended in a draw. The third and final test will start in Mumbai on Dec. 2.

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