GALLE, Sri Lanka, (Reuters) – Virender Sehwag led India’s reply to Sri Lanka’s massive total of 520 for eight declared with a sparkling unbeaten 85 on the third day of the first test yesterday.
Sehwag stroked 14 fours and a six to help India reach 140 for three when bad light ended play with 9.2 overs remaining.
Muttiah Muralitharan, test cricket’s leading wicket taker and playing his final match, moved to within seven of his 800th scalp when he trapped Sachin Tendulkar lbw for eight and he ended with figures of one for 31.
Fast bowler Lasith Malinga, returning to the test side after two and a half years, made the initial breakthrough by trapping Gautam Gambhir lbw for two in his opening over.
Rahul Dravid ran himself out for 18 going for an impossible second run and failing to beat Malinga’s throw from mid-off.
An eighth-wicket stand of 115 between Rangana Herath and Malinga enabled Sri Lanka to declare their first innings at tea.
The pair came together at 393 for seven and were not parted until Sri Lanka were past the 500 mark.
Malinga scored 64 off 75 balls with nine fours and two sixes before top-edging a pull to fine-leg and Herath, batting with great assurance, struck 10 fours and one six in an unbeaten 80 off 93 balls.
Both recorded their highest test scores and the partnership was a Sri Lankan eighth-wicket record against India.
Muralitharan was greeted in his final test appearance by fireworks when he came out to bat and the Indian fielders formed a guard of honour.
Fast bowler Abhimanyu Mithun, on his test debut, added the wickets of Prasanna Jayawardene for 27 and Malinga to complete figures of four for 105.
India rallied to capture four wickets on the third morning of the weather-interrupted test.
Resuming at 256 for two after Monday’s play was completely washed out, Sri Lanka reached 361 for six at lunch.
India made the initial breakthrough in the second over when Ishant Sharma had Tharanga Paranavitana caught behind for 111 after the opener had added just a single run to his overnight score.
The introduction of the second new ball inspired Sharma and he also picked up the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene (48) and Angelo Mathews (41).