Cricket: Tendulkar steers India out of trouble

Sri Lanka 332 India 226-4
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As he has so frequently done, Sachin Tendulkar steered India through choppy waters to comfortable calm on the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club here yesterday.

The captain entered at 9 for 2 after Sri Lanka's left-armers, Chaminda Vaas and Sajeewa de Silva, had removed Ajay Jadeja and Rahul Dravid in a lively opening burst. He was still batting, unbeaten on 117 at the close.

Tendulkar escaped a low chance to his rival captain Arjuna Ranatunga's left at first slip off Sri Lanka's third fast bowler, Ravindra Pushpakumara, when 34 and the total just 63 for 2. For Sri Lanka injury was added to insult as the chance badly damaged Ranatunga's left hand, forcing him to leave the field for the day.

Tendulkar's 13th Test hundred - his second in succession following his 142 in the run-glut first Test at the Premadasa Stadium in the same city last week - was more carefully compiled than most others. Opener Navjot Singh Sidhu had helped repair the early damage in a stand of 72 with his captain, and Mohammed Azharuddin put on a further 45 with him.

But when Azharrudin departed immediately after tea, India were still in trouble. However, Saurav Ganguly arrived to carry on the good work and by stumps the two had added exactly 100.

Earlier Sri Lanka had failed to build on their promising first-day effort, Aravinda de Silva adding only two to his 144 before edging an out-swinger from the impressive newcomer Debasis Mohanty to the wicketkeeper. It was one of four wickets for the 23-year-old fast bowler, the first cricketer from Orissa State to represent India.

A crowd of no more than 2,000 once more emphasised the diminishing appeal of Test cricket in this part of the world.