Friday, November 27, 2009

Sreesanth leaves Sri Lanka reeling in Kanpur

KANPUR (Reuters) - Fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth grabbed six wickets on his comeback to leave Sri Lanka facing an innings defeat in the second test on Thursday.

The 26-year-old captured five for 75 to dismiss Sri Lanka for 229 in the first innings and help India clinch a 413-run lead, the hosts having amassed 642 on electing to bat first.

Forced to follow on, Sri Lanka were 57 for four at stumps after Sreesanth provided the early breakthrough by removing attacking opener Tillakaratne Dilshan for 11.

Any Sri Lankan hopes of salvaging a draw were dashed when the other opener Tharanga Paranavitana (20), Mahela Jayawardene (10), who was run out, and skipper Kumar Sangakkara (11) fell cheaply.

At the close of the third day, Thilan Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews were batting as Sri Lanka faced the prospect of a huge defeat.

Sreesanth forced Dilshan to edge a delivery to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni before Indian bowlers made quick inroads into a tense Sri Lankan batting line-up.

Occasional off-spinner Virender Sehwag trapped Paranavitana leg before and Jayawardene was run out following a mix-up going for a risky single before Sangakkara played on to the stumps for a second time, against off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.


Playing his first test since facing South Africa in Kanpur in April 2008, Sreesanth was at his fiery best, claiming his second five-wicket innings haul in tests.

Sreesanth produced brilliant spells of swing bowling in all three sessions to leave Sri Lanka in disarray on a Green Park pitch where spin had been predicted as the chief weapon.

A temperamental player who had been plagued by injury and disciplinary woes, Sreesanth was a picture of calm as he kept a tight line and smoothly switched to either side of the wicket.

He struck his first blow in the morning's sixth over when he forced Paranavitana to nick a delivery which swung late, keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking a diving catch to his left.

It ended an 82-run second-wicket partnership with Kumar Sangakkara, who was out for 44 soon after.

Having played himself in, Sangakkara dragged a wide delivery on to the stumps and Thilan Samaraweera (2) also edged a wild drive against the paceman on to the stumps.

Mahela Jayawardene (47) and Prasanna Jayawardene (39), who both hit centuries in the drawn first test, added 60 runs for the sixth wicket before Sreesanth struck after lunch.

He had Prasanna Jayawardene caught behind chasing a wide delivery and Mahela Jayawardene also paid the penalty 10 runs later, lofting a catch off debutant left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha to mid-on.

Sreesanth then bowled tail-ender Rangana Herath (11) to claim his five-wicket haul before spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ojha, who took two wickets each, wrapped it up seven overs after Sri Lanka had hobbled to tea at 219 for eight.

On Wednesday, Gautam Gambhir (167), Virender Sehwag (131) and Dravid (144) all scored centuries to help the hosts post a huge total.

The first test in Ahmedabad ended in a draw. Mumbai will stage the third and final test from Dec. 2.

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