Cricket: Ranatunga adopts the bold approach

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Sri Lanka 332 and 415-7 dec India 375 and 49-0

Sri Lanka's insatiable run-getters Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva piled up yet more records while giving their captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, the satisfaction of a challenging declaration late on the fourth day of the second Test against India here yesterday.

Jayasuriya, the left-handed opener, followed his monumental 340 in the drawn first Test last week with another masterful, chanceless innings of 199 and De Silva, somewhat less assured but no less aggressive, compiled his second hundred of the match and his sixth in successive Test innings this year in Colombo. The pair added 213, a new overall third-wicket Test record for Sri Lanka, at such a rate that Ranatunga was confident enough to close and leave India with 374 to win off the remaining minimum 103 overs.

The pitch is still basically true but India include at least two high quality batsmen of their own in their captain, Sachin Tendulkar, whose previous two innings in the series have both been three figures, and Mohammad Azharuddin. In other words, it was an enterprising decision by Ranatunga.

As it was, India's openers moved 49 closer to their goal off the final 13 overs of the day so that the equation this morning is 325 off the allotted 90 overs. The prospects are intriguing.

Yet, judging by their diffident approach in the field as Jayasuriya and De Silva took control, the jaded Indians appear to lack the heart for a real fight. Once the pair had become settled, the plan was simply to scatter the field in the hope of damage limitation but it did not succeed. The two took runs at liberty and when De Silva offered chances they were unaccepted three times.

Jayasuriya was the first to go, bowled by fast bowler Abey Kuruvilla trying for the single he needed for a double century through a field tightened for one of the few times during the day. In the course of his stay of 226 balls, that included two sixes and 22 fours, Jayasuriya became the first batsman to pass 1,000 Test runs for the year.

De Silva went past his seemingly inevitable hundred - the second time in Tests this year at the Singhalese Sports Club ground that he had completed one in each innings - and the declaration came when he lofted a catch to extra cover.

Fourth day; India won toss

SRI LANKA - First Innings 332 (P A de Silva 146; D Mohanty 4-78).

INDIA - First Innings 375 (S R Tendulkar 139, S C Ganguly 147; M Muralitharan 4-99).

SRI LANKA - Second Innings

(Overnight: 77 for 1)

S T Jayasuriya b Kuruvilla 199

R S Mahanama st Mongia b Kumble 35

P A de Silva c sub b Kumble 120

*A Ranatunga run out 1

R S Kaluwitharana run out 2

M Jayawardena c Mongia b Kuruvilla 7

W P U J Vaas not out 5

Extras (lb4 b1 w1 nb11) 17

Total (for 7 dec, 97.4 overs) 415

Fall: 1-65 2-145 3-363 4-369 5-374 6-394 7-417.

Bowling: Mohanty 15.2-0-72-0 (w1); Prasad 15.4-1-72-0 (nb1); Kuruvilla 24-3-90-2 (nb9); Kumble 38.4-2-156-3 (nb1); Ganguly 3-0-18-0; Dravid 1- 0-2-0.

INDIA - Second Innings

A D Jadeja not out 35

N S Sidhu not out 12

Extras (nb2) 2

Total (for 0) 49

To bat: R S Dravid, S R Tendulkar, M Azharrudin, S C Ganguly, N R Mongia, A R Kumble, A Kuruvilla, B K V Prasad, D Mohanty.

Bowling: Vaas 5-1-20-0; de Silva 5-2-7-0; Muralitheran 3-0-22-0 (nb2).

Umpires: R Koertzen (SA), B C Cooray (S Lanka).