India 249 & 161-5 Sri Lanka 396: Dominant Sri Lanka close in on victory as Mendis makes history

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The Independent Online

Sri Lanka completed a dominant day by taking five evening-session wickets to propel them towards victory in the series-deciding third Test against India here in Colombo yesterday.

India had laboured before eventually bowling out their hosts for 396 midway through the middle session, conceding a first-innings deficit of 147.

The openers, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, gave India a flying start in reducing those arrears as they scored at more than a run a ball in the hour before tea. But, shortly after the resumption, the debutant Dammika Prasad removed both batsmen in consecutive overs before the Indian middle order again succumbed to the spinning threat of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis to slump to 161 for 5 at the close – a lead of only 14 runs. The veteran Rahul Dravid remained at the crease on 46, while VVS Laxman, who had been demoted to seven in a failed bid to buy him time as he recovers from the injured ankle he sustained in yesterday's warm-up session, was also unbeaten on 17.

Sachin Tendulkar had needed to make 90 runs to equal Brian Lara's Test record of 11,953 runs, and looked comfortable until he misread a Mendis googly. The veteran batsman called for a review, but the third umpire, Billy Doctrove, concurred with the lbw decision and he had to exit for only 14. The wicket was Mendis' 25th of the series - the most by a debutant in a three-Test series – and moved his side towards a memorable victory.