Sri Lanka steam ahead in Galle

Centuries from Paranavitana and Sangakkara put Sri Lanka in control of India Test.

    Paranavitana scored his maiden century as Sri Lanka dominated the first day in Galle [Reuters]

    Opener Tharanga Paranavitana hit a maiden test hundred and Kumar Sangakkara recorded his 22nd as Sri Lanka dominated on the opening day of the first Test against India.

    Paranavitana was unbeaten on 110 and Sangakkara hit 103 as Sri Lanka reached 256 for two before rain halted play just eight overs into the final session in Galle on Sunday.

    Both batsmen had been let off the hook by India's fielders, with Sangakkara dropped on 65 after edging the ball to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

    The Sri Lanka captain took full advantage of his Indian counterpart's mistake to reach his century shortly before the tea break.

    Paranavitana, his patient partner, survived a chance when Gautam Gambhir failed to hold onto a reflex catch on 35.

    The left-handed duo put on 181 for the second wicket, before Sangakkara eventually fell when he failed to middle a bad ball from Virender Sehwag and was caught by Sachin Tendulkar.

    'Greatest bowler ever'

    About 15,000 fans turned out in Galle as Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan made his final test appearance. He needs eight wickets to become the first bowler to take 800 test wickets.

    Chandrasiri Ratnayake, Sri Lanka's sports minister, presented Muralitharan with a silver plaque before the start of play, while posters hailing Sri Lanka's favourite cricketing son as the "greatest bowler ever" were plastered around the ground.

    But it was the Indian bowlers that had the first chance to make their mark after Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat.

    However, a depleted attack, missing the injured pace duo of  Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, proved ineffective on the easy-paced wicket.

    Tillakaratne Dilshan was the sole Sri Lankan wicket to fall in the morning session when he attempted to hook a short delivery from test debutant Abhimanyu Mithun and gloved a catch to Dhoni on 25.

    By that point, Sri Lanka had already smashed 55 runs from 10 overs.

    Seamer Ishant Sharma conceded 79 runs in 14 overs, while spinner Harbhajan Singh went for 0-41 from 17 overs and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha gave away 66 runs in 17 overs.

    Debut seamer Abhimanyu Mithun was the only bowler to emerge relatively unscathed, finishing the day with one wicket for 41 runs in 17 overs.

    India, the top-ranked Test side, is looking for their first series win in Sri Lanka in 17 years. The team's lone success so far came through a 1-0 victory under Mohammad Azharuddin in 1993.
    The three-Test series is the third between the two nations in two years. Sri Lanka won 2-1 at home in August 2008 before India won the return leg on their own soil 2-0 last year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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