Cricket: India set up by century from Sidhu

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The Independent Online

India set up by century from Sidhu

India utilised ideal batting conditions on a sunny, boiling hot day to take early command of the first Test against Sri Lanka, writes Tony Cozier in Colombo. They lost the wicketkeeper, Nayan Mongia, their makeshift opener, for seven to a gully catch off the fast bowler Rajindra Pushpakamara within the first half-hour after Sachin Tendulkar had won a crucial toss. Then Navjot Sidhu, with his eighth Test hundred, a chanceless 111 including two sixes from off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharam and 13 fours, and Rahul Dravid, with a patient 69, added 147 for the second wicket that formed the basis of a close of play total of 280 for 3. Sidhu fell to a careless shot prompted by over-confidence, caught behind off the left-arm fast bowler Chaminda Vaas, while Dravid was the victim of a freak catch, also in the final session. Dravid smashed a long hop from the left-arm spinner Sanath Jayasuriya into the boot of the silly point fielder, Marvan Atapattu, and then stood aghast as the ball rebounded back to the bowler. In the final hour, Tendulkar launched a blistering attack against the second new ball, taking boundaries off four consecutive balls in one over from Vaas to be ominously unbeaten on 65, having already added 50 for the fourth wicket with Mohammed Azharuddin.