Cricket: India make late progress after Atapattu steadies Sri Lanka

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India 512; Sri Lanka 286-5

Marvan Atapattu hit a defiant 98 yesterday to steer Sri Lanka towards safety in the third and final Test against India in Bombay yesterday.

The Sri Lankans, replying to India's mammoth first-innings score of 512, ended the third day on 286 for 5, needing only 27 more runs to avoid the follow-on. Atapattu, who hit a century in the first Test, missed a second one by two runs when he pushed a ball from the off-spinner Rajesh Chauhan into the hands of silly point.

Atapattu and the nightwatchman, Kumara Dharmasena, who resumed at the overnight score of 66 for 1, had thwarted India's bid to snatch the initiative with a 115-run stand for the second wicket.

The pair batted through the morning session, before Dharmasena was dismissed after lunch for 40, caught at mid-on also off Chauhan. Sri Lanka then reached 219 for 2 before India struck three times late in the day as the wicket showed signs of wear and tear.

Roshan Mahanama was caught at gully off the seamer Venkatesh Prasad for 20, before Chauhan removed Atapattu and the captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, in quick succession.

Then, though, Aravinda De Silva (48no), the scourge of Indian bowlers over the last year, saw out the day in company with Hashan Tillakaratne, who was unbeaten on four.

Third day; Sri Lanka won toss

INDIA - First Innings 512 (S C Ganguly 173, S R Tendulkar 148, R S Dravid 93).

SRI LANKA - First Innings

(Overnight: 66 for 1)

M S Atapattu c sub b Chauhan 98

H D P K Dharmasena c Kumble b Chauhan 40

R S Mahanama c Kumble b Prasad 20

P A De Silva not out 48

*A Ranatunga c Azharuddin b Chauhan 1

H P Tillakaratne not out 4

Extras (lb8 b2 nb11 w4) 25

Total (for 5) 286

Fall (cont): 2-180 3-219 4-259 5-269.

To bat: S K L De Silva; W P U J C Vaas; G P Wickramasinghe, K R Pushpakumara.

Bowling (to date): Srinath 20-1-92-0 (2nb, 4w); Venkatesh Prasad 14-4- 28-1 (2nb); Kuruvilla 13-2-42-0 (3nb); Kumble 31-14-56-1 (1nb); Chauhan 24-7-39-3 (1nb); Ganguly 3-0-19-0 (2nb).

Umpires: A V Jayaprakash (Ind) and S A Bucknor (WI).

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