India 249 Sri Lanka 14-1: Mendis spin has India reeling in series decider

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The Independent Online

The remarkable spinner Ajantha Mendis continued his impressive start to his Test career with five wickets here in Colombo yesterday as Sri Lanka bowled out India in their first innings on the first day of the third and series-deciding Test. In reply, Sri Lanka lost opener Malinda Warnapura cheaply before the close but will have gone into day two with the upper hand.

After winning the toss and getting a promising platform from their openers, India's formidable batting line-up was picked apart by the inexperienced pair of debutant paceman Dammika Prasad, who took three wickets in the morning, and Mendis.

Prasad (3-82) snared the prized wickets of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar after India's openers Gautam Gambhir and Sehwag shared 51 for the first wicket.

"We should have got a lot more runs," Gambhir said. "There was hardly anything for the bowlers on the pitch, just that we didn't bat well." Gambhir made a defiant 72 before becoming Mendis's first victim when trapped lbw. Mendis also dismissed VVS Laxman for 25 just before tea. Mendis wasted no time after the break, picking up the wickets of Parthiv Patel and Anil Kumble in quick succession.

Michael Vandort took a well-judged running catch off the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan to dismiss Harbhajan Singh, reducing India to 198 for 9, but India's last pair Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan shared a gritty 51-run partnership to frustrate the home team.