Centuries by Warnapura, Jayawardene and Samaraweera put Lanka on top

By Rex Clementine, IANS,

Colombo : Sri Lanka made a strong start to the three-Test series as three batsmen struck centuries to end the second day of the first Test against India at an imposing 422 for four at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground here Thursday.

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The Indians had a torrid time on the field with runs coming all too easy for the hosts on a placid wicket that offered no assistance to the bowlers. The Indian fielders also did not back their bowlers dropping catches off all three century-makers.

Opener Malinda Warnapura hit 115 while captain Mahela Jayawardene scored 136 and the third hundred came from Thilan Samaraweera, who is batting on 111 with Tilakaratne Dilshan (20) at stumps.

Resuming from the overnight score of 85 for two, the Sri Lankans put on crucial partnerships that helped them to a commanding position.

Jayawardene and Warnapura added 155 runs for the third wicket as they denied the Indians any success in the morning session. Warnapura was caught off a no ball by Zaheer Khan when he was on 55 and then became the first player to be referred to the Television Referral Umpire after a leg before wicket appeal against the batsman was turned down.

On the insistence of wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, captain Anil Kumble used his first of three referrals and after studying extensive television replays, umpire Rudi Koertzen instructed his colleague on the field that the ball was going down the leg. He was on 86 at that stage and went onto compete his second hundred shortly.

He was dropped on 113 by V.V.S. Laxman at second slip off Zaheer Khan and fortunately that reprieve did not cost the Indians much as Harbhajan Singh picked up the left-hander when Rahul Dravid at first slip pouched the catch. Warnapura made 115 in 202 balls with 14 boundaries.

Jayawardene was put down on 55 and 93 and on both instances wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik was the culprit with Kumble being the bowler.

Jayawardene, who had batted aggressively in the morning, reaching his half-century by swinging Harbhajan for a six over long-on, was more subdued after the break batting cautiously.

He added 148 runs for the fourth wicket with Samaraweera and fell for the second new ball when Sharma got him with a delivery that left the batsman late. Karthik’s dismal day behind the stumps ended when he eventually took the catch.

Jayawardene, who completed his 23rd Test hundred and the fourth against India, also reached another milestone when he equalled Don Bradman’s record for most number of hundreds at one ground. Bradman had scored nine hundreds at the MCG and Mahela joined him with his ninth hundred at the SSC.

Samaraweera was put down on 53 by Gautam Gambhir at short leg to deny Harbhajan a second wicket. The drop hurt the Indians as he gave them a real hiding with a spectacular counterattack.

He hit three successive fours off Ishant Sharma getting to his 90s and reached three figures with a fierce drive off Ganguly for four.