Cricket: India punish sloppy Sri Lanka

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The Independent Online
India 351-3 v Sri Lanka

SANDAGOPPAN RAMESH struck his maiden Test century and Rahul Dravid also scored a hundred to give India the upper hand against Sri Lanka in their Asian Test championship match.

India were 351 for 3 at the close of the first day with Sachin Tendulkar, who hit an unbeaten 53 in as many balls, and their captain Mohammad Azharuddin, 19 not out, consolidating an impressive start.

Ramesh, who hit 143, shared a record second-wicket stand of 232 with Dravid (107) after opener Vangipurappu Laxman was out for 11 with the total on 20. Ramesh hit 18 fours in his 317-minute innings while Dravid reached the boundary 12 times.

The pair broke India's previous highest second-wicket stand in Tests against Sri Lanka of 173 between Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar, set in 1982-83.

Sri Lanka had to endure a day of toil after winning the toss and putting India in to bat, with sloppy fielding compounding their problems and accelerating the run rate.

Their solitary success in the morning was the dismissal of Laxman. He edged a rising delivery from the debutant pace bowler Ruchira Perera into the slips where the fielders juggled with the ball before Aravinda de Silva finally grasped the catch at first slip. Ramesh fell when he drove Mahela Jayawardene uppishly and was caught by the Sri Lankan captain, Arjuna Ranatunga.

Soon afterwards, Ranatunga held a juggling catch to send back Dravid off the bowling of Chandika Hathurusingha.

Sri Lanka went in to the match without their injured off spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan. Pakistan beat India by 46 runs in the opening match of the championship last Saturday. Sri Lanka play Pakistan in Lahore, starting on 4 March, and the final is in Dhaka starting on 12 March.

First day, Sri Lanka won toss

INDIA - First Innings

S Ramesh c Ranatunga b Jayawardene 143

V V S Laxman c de Silva b Perera 11

R Dravid c Ranatunga b Hathurusingha 107

S R Tendulkar not out 53

*M Azharuddin not out 19

Extras (5b, 4lb, 12nb) 18

Total (for 3 wickets, 90 overs) 351

Fall: 1-20, 2-252, 3-288.

To bat: S C Ganguly, N R Mongia, A Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Venkatesh Prasad, A Nehra.

Bowling: Vaas 22-4-70-1; Perera 19-2-102-1; Upashantha 17-0-68-0; Hathurusingha13- 2-38; Arnold13-1-46-0; Jayawardene 6-1-18-1.

Sri Lanka: R P Arnold, M S Atapattu, P A de Silva, D P M Jayawardene, *A Ranatunga, H P Tillakaratne, R S Kaluwitharana, W P U J C Vaas, U C Hathurusingha, R L Perera, K E A Upashantha.

Umpires: R E Koertzen (SA) and R B Tiffin (Zim).