Gambhir launches India's fightback
by Rohit Sakunia

Ground:Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad
Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:HAPW Jayawardene, DPMD Jayawardene, V Sehwag, G Gambhir
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 19th November 2009


After being battered black and blue, India on the back of a serene half-century from Gambhir launched a decent fightback to stay alive in the game. Facing a deficit of 334 runs, India started their innings promisingly as Sehwag and Gambhir put up a strong resistance. Though the hosts lost two wickets Gambhir's stay in the middle would have been soothing to the Indian dressing room.


At the start the Indians only kept going through the motions, as the Jayawardene duo accumulated runs ruthlessly. The Indians waited with patience for a declaration but what came in was a ton from Prasanna and a 250 from the elder one. The duo scored runs at close to 4 runs an over and in the process Sri Lanka registered the highest total in India. Mahela also touched the 9000 Test runs mark.


MS Dhoni played all the tricks in his hand including that of taking the new ball as soon as it was due. This though only worked in the favour of the batsmen as the new ball came to the bat much more easily than the older one. The Jayawardenes did not take any risk but still picked up boundaries at will as the Indian bowlers wilted under the attack. Zaheer clearly bowled without any sting, Ishant was much slower than his normal speed and resultantly even edges didn't carry to the fielders. Such was the onslaught that in the first nine overs, 8 boundaries were scored and those overs went for 39. Till now Mahela was only late-cutting spinners, this morning though he started playing the same shot against the seamers. Then the spinners came under the scanner. Amit Mishra was welcomed by Mahela with couple of boundaries that took him closer to his 250. He soon got there with a single. The duo kept getting runs with ease as all bowlers looked helpless on the dead as a dodo surface.


The duo finally put to shadow the previous highest partnership for the sixth wicket as they recorded a massive 351 in 97.3 overs to drive the Indian bowlers to distraction. Finally Mahela fell as he tried to up the ante and in the process got cleaned up by a colourless Mishra. Prasanna Jayawardene got past the 150 run mark and once Dammika Prasad holed out in the deep Sangakkara declared the innings with a huge lead of 334.


The Indian openers had to play a tricky period of 70 minutes before they could go and have tea. Sehwag put aside his stroke-making tendencies while Gambhir looked quite solid in the middle as the pair negotiated a testing period from the Lankan medium-pacers and the spin duo. India could have lost Sehwag early on more than one occasion but were fortunate. The fourth ball of the innings Sehwag went to drive a wide one, and edged. It was a no-ball and the keeper dropped it. But in the next over he again edged a Dammika Prasad delivery that held its line and the edge went between the Jayawardenes behind the stumps. Sehwag soon realised his follies and tightened up his game, leaving balls outside off and offering the full face of the bat to ones that were aimed at his stumps.


The pair ran quick singles to keep the scoreboard moving and though there were long periods during the partnership where no boundaries were struck the two Delhi team-mates refused to panic. After tea Sehwag crossed a well-deserved half century and just when it was looking ominous for the Lankans, a rush of blood finally ended his innings. Dravid joined Gambhir in the middle and the two blunted the Lankan attack with an excellent mixture of caution and aggression. The pair slowly but steadily ate into the lead of the Lankans and seeing that his spinners were impotent Sangakkara brought back his seamers.


Prasad and Welegedara toiled hard on an unresponsive pitch but the pair offered staunch resistance. The pair put on 88 in 23.1 overs and just when it seemed that they would take India to stumps without any disruptions Welegedara struck. The left-armer coming round the wicket trapped Dravid leg before with a fuller one and Harper after taking his time ruled the decision in the bowler's favour to end a promising innings from Dravid. Nightwatchman Amit Mishra joined Gambhir in the middle and the two ensured that India did not lose any more wickets as the day drew close.


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