India 329 Sri Lanka 215-5: Harbhajan's late burst shatters Sri Lanka's serenity

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The Independent Online

The spinner Harbhajan Singh took four wickets in the final session to wreck Sri Lanka's earlier promising efforts in the second Test in Galle yesterday.

With the hosts on 126 for 1 at tea and cruising after Kumar Sangakkara and Malinda Warnapura both reached half-centuries, Harbhajan struck to reduce them to 215 for 5 by stumps, 114 behind India's 329.

Virender Sehwag had earlier posted a brilliant 201 not out to almost single-handedly guide India to their total, while the rest of his team-mates succumbed to the burgeoning talent of the Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis, who notched his first five-wicket haul in Tests with figures of 6 for 117.

Sri Lanka shrugged off the early loss of Michael Vandort, who was caught by Rahul Dravid at third slip off the bowling of Zaheer Khan with only the third ball. Sangakkara and Warnapura forged an assured partnership and put on 119 runs between them by tea.

They found the going considerably tougher after the interval, however, and added just five runs from six overs before Warnapura sliced Harbhajan to Gautam Gambhir at short square point for 66.

Sangakkara followed two overs later when he got a leading edge which flicked straight back to the spinner. Thilan Samaraweera was then trapped lbw by Harbhajan. The batsman asked for the decision to be reviewed but the third umpire upheld the ruling.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was Harbhajan's last victim when he edged to Gambhir at short leg via his pad, although the spinner was unfortunate not to claim the prized scalp of Mahela Jayawardene, who remained unbeaten at the crease on 46.

The batsman survived an lbw decision, which the spinner had asked to be reviewed, and was then dropped twice in one over. Gambhir was culpable on both occasions, although both were difficult chances at short leg.

India had begun the second day on 214 for 4, with Sehwag and V V S Laxman starting to build a promising fifth-wicket partnership. Laxman fell when he pulled an innocuous delivery from Mendis straight to Samaraweera at midwicket having made 39. That dismissal prompted a collapse, with the tourists' final six wickets falling for just 51 runs. The only man to stand firm was Sehwag, whose innings came from just 231 balls.