Sangakkara stands firm to stall India
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai
Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:KC Sangakkara, Harbhajan Singh, MS Dhoni
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 5th December 2009


It was a fluctuating day of fortune as first India and the Sri Lanka took control of Day four proceedings. In the first session it was a balanced battle between the ball and bat. In the second session India took control of the Test when the seamers jolted the middle order with quick wickets but then Sangakkara found willing partners first in Prasanna Jayawardene and then in Kulasekara as the Lankans resisted the Indian bowlers who looked like they lost their sting. The highlight of the final session was Sangakkara reaching a well-deserved century his first on the Indian soil.


Sri Lanka was banking on the explosive Dilshan to get them off to an explosive start. But Dilshan after playing a couple of aggressive shots padded up to an sharp off-break from Harbhajan and found on the wrong side of umpire Harper's decision. Harbhajan bowled excellently using most of his variety in his repertoire but Paranavitana and Sangakkara held fort to keep a threatening Harbhajan at bay by taking regular singles. But Harbhajan kept coming at the batsmen and once he was given a breather the Lankan duo breathe easy.


The pair put on 90 runs on either side of lunch before a brilliant inswinger from Sreesanth terminated the stand by trapping Paranavitana (54) leg before and then it was Zaheer's turn to rock the Lankan boat. First he tested Mahela Jayawardene's competency outside his off stump and found him wanting when the batsman edged to Dhoni and then removed Samaraweera (0) with a brutal bouncer which the hapless batsman could only fend low towards Laxman at second slip who was alert enough to snap the offering.


Ojha then joined the party when Mathews' attempted defensive attempt only resulted in giving skipper Dhoni his 100th catch in his Test career. Amidst the ruins Sangakkara stood grim faced as his dream of winning a Test in India was fading fast. He crossed for the first time the fifty run mark in India but that was not even a consolation at that stage. Prasanna Jayawardene (32) was busy in his short stay as he was on constant look-out for runs employing the sweep shot effectively against the spinners. The duo added 64 in 14.4 overs before an arm ball from Ojha struck the keeper right in front of the stumps to reduce the Lankans to 208 for 6.


Sangakkara kept on fighting and finally reached his 21st Test century and first against India when he clipped a wayward Zaheer delivery to midwicket boundary. Kulasekara supported his captain by batting sensibly as the duo raised the fifty run partnership to frustrate the Indians. Dhoni shuffled his bowlers around constantly but failed to have any sort of impact on the Lankan duo as they looked fairly settled. The duo brought the lead down to hundred and soon the deficit was 59 runs.