India's feast of runs led by Tendulkar

India 537-8 dec Sri Lanka 39-1
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A fourth-wicket stand of 221 between their two finest batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar and the man he succeeded as captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, guaranteed India an impregnable position after two days of the opening Test against Sri Lanka yesterday.

The sheer volume of runs will put pressure on the home team's batsmen over the coming three days, in spite of a pitch still in prime condition. As it was, Sri Lanka lost a wicket to the last ball of the day when Marvan Atapattu fell to the left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni's first ball in Test cricket for 26. Only 11 bowlers in the long history of the game had made such a dream start as the tall, slim Kulkarni.

Continuing from the comfort of 280 for 3, Tendulkar and Azharuddin both completed hundreds to add to Navjot Singh Sidhu's 111 on the opening day. Tendulkar's painstaking 143 was his 12th in Tests, Azharuddin's 126 his 17th. Only Sunil Gavaskar, with his world-record 34, has scored more for India.

Both fell to Muttiah Muralitharan, just reward for the off-spinner's perseverance through 65 overs on an unsympathetic pitch upon which he conceded 174 runs.

Tendulkar had been constrained against negative Sri Lankan tactics that involved the left-arm spinner, Jayantha Silva, bowling well wide of leg stump from over the wicket to a strong leg-side field.

Tendulkar had been in for nearly five hours when he lofted a catch to long-on having hit 21 fours, the majority early in his innings. Azharuddin fell to the first ball after tea and Tendulkar's delay in declaring seemed to waste time that India might need to try to force a victory.

India won toss; second day

INDIA - First Innings

N R Mongia c Jayawardena b Pushpakumara 7

N S Sidhu c Kaluwitharana b Vaas 111

R S Dravid c and b Jayasuriya 69

S R Tendulkar c Jayawardena b Muralitharan 143

*M Azharuddin c and b Muralitharan 126

S C Ganguly c Mahanama b Jayasuriya 0

A R Kumble not out 27

R K Chauhan c Vaas b Jayasuriya 23

A Kuruvilla c Atapattu b Pushpakumara 9

Extras (b10, nb12) 22

Total (for 8 dec) 537

Fall: 1-36, 2-193, 3-230, 4-541, 5-461, 6-479, 7-516, 8-537.

Did not bat: Venkatesh Prasad, N M Kulkarni.

Bowling: Vaas 23-4-80-1; Pushpakumara 19.3-2-97-2; Jayawardena 2-0-6- 0; Muralitheran 65-9-174-2 (nb7); Silva 39-3-122-0 (nb5); Jayasuriya 18- 3-45-3; Atapattu 1-0-3-0.

SRI LANKA - First Innings

S T Jayasuriya not out 12

M S Atapattu c Mongia b Kulkarni 26

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (for 1) 39

Fall: 1-39.

To bat: *A Ranatunga, R S Mahanama, P A de Silva, D R M Jayawardena, R S Kaluwitharana, W P U J C Vaas, K R Pushpakumara, M Muralitharan, K J Silva.

Bowling: Venkatesh Prasad 3-0-16-0; Kuruvilla 2-1-10-0 (nb1); Chauhan 2-1-1-0; Kumble 2-0-12-0; Kulkarni 1-0-0-1.

Umpires: K T Francis (Sri Lanka) and S G Randell (Australia).