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Cricket: Sri Lanka eye elusive Test win in India

Sri Lanka will renew efforts to win their first-ever Test in India when the second match begins on Tuesday, after being frustrated by a flat wicket in the opening tie.

The islanders, who have never won a Test on Indian soil in six previous series, gave themselves a fair chance of scripting history at Ahmedabad by stacking up a huge 760/7 declared in their first innings.

But India wiped out a 334-run deficit on first innings, thanks to a docile pitch and some resolute batting by their top-order batsmen.

Sri Lanka’s bowlers started out well to reduce India to 32/4 in the opening session but allowed them to score 426 in their first knock and struggled again in the second innings, failing to take 10 wickets over nearly four sessions.

The world’s leading wicket-taker, Muttiah Muralitharan, was unable to take even a single wicket off 38 overs in the second innings, raising doubts over his effectiveness on flat wickets.

Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara said he was disappointed by the Motera track but admitted they should not have let India get away after having them on the mat on the first day of the match.

“We had our best chance when we had them 32 for four but we gave it away after lunch” on the opening day, said Sangakkara.

“There was not much for the bowlers on the last two days. If you were a batsman you would like it. I don’t think anyone expected this wicket to be this flat.”

Sangakkara was not the only one rueing the pitch, which saw a whopping 1,598 runs being scored, including a world-record sixth wicket stand of 351 between Mahela Jayawardene (275) and Prasanna Jayawardene (154 not out).

His Indian counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni was equally critical.

“The wicket was bad. It wasn’t much help to the spinners. For the fast bowlers also the wicket got slower and slower,” said Dhoni.

“We knew if we didn’t give early wickets to the Sri Lankan bowlers it would be very difficult for them to get 10 wickets and that’s what happened.”

The focus in the second Test might once again be on the wicket that is laid out at the Green Park stadium.

The last Test played here between India and South Africa saw the home side wrap up an eight-wicket victory inside three days on a sub-standard track, prompting a warning from the International Cricket Council.

The wicket has since been relaid but the local media said the authorities wanted the match to be played on a “tried and tested” pitch.

“Our main concern is to have a full five-day game and we don’t want to experiment on a relaid track. We want to play safe,” a state cricket official quoted as saying in a newspaper.

The other worry for Sri Lanka apart from the wicket would be the fitness of paceman Dammika Prasad, who braved a hamstring injury to bowl four overs on the final day of the Ahmedabad match.

The tourists are already without fast bowler Thilan Thushara who had to go back home after failing to recover from a freak shoulder injury, suffered during a training session ahead of the first match.

The third and final Test begins in Mumbai on December 2.

India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Pragyan Ojha, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Subramaniam Badrinath.

Sri Lanka (from): Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavitana, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Thilina Kandamby, Prasanna Jayawardene, Kaushal Silva, Chanaka Welegedara, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dammika Prasad, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis.

Match Name: 2nd Test
Teams: India vs Sri Lanka
Venue: Green Park Stadium, Kanpur
Time: 0930 IST
Channel: Neo Cricket

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