Cricket: Sri Lankans allow opportunity to slip

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The Independent Online
Sri Lanka 332 and 415-7 dec India 375 and 281-5 Match drawn

Neither team could find the resources to achieve victory on the final day and Sri Lanka and India had to be content with yet another draw in the second and final Test here yesterday.

Both needed a sense of adventure and a little luck if they were to make any impression, with India, 49 without loss, requiring 324 more over a minimum 90 overs in the day.

They were put out of the reckoning with the loss of two wickets before lunch and a slow run-rate, and lost all interest within 10 minutes of the second session when their captain, Sachin Tendulkar, fell to an uncharacteristic stroke that resulted in a skied catch after he had made only eight.

At that stage the Sri Lankans were in with a realistic chance of a rare Test triumph, but were let down by their catching and gained only two more wickets in the day. They were held up by Mohammad Azharuddin for the last three and three-quarter hours to be unbeaten on 108, his 19th Test hundred and his second in successive matches. Yet they missed two chances to dispose of him early on.

He was 12 when off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who had already accounted for Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar, put down a low two-handed return. At 40, in the penultimate over before tea with the match still alive, wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana let an edge off Sanath Jayasuriya's left-arm spin fall to the ground.

Before Azharuddin, only Ajay Jadeja played with confidence for 73 before slicing to gulley off Sajeewa de Silva, but then Saurav Ganguly joined Azharuddin in an unbroken stand of 110.

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