Dravid, Dhoni put India on top
by Rohit Sakunia

Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:UWMBCA Welagedara, RS Dravid, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 16th November 2009


If Test matches are decided through hours of play, today would have read as 5-1 in favour of India. Sri Lanka picked up four wickets in the first hour, rather in a span of 29 minutes but what happened post that was a forgetful journey for Sangakkara and his wards.


Two century partnerships followed and the momentum which looked so much in favour of the touring party to start of shifted in such a manner that in just a span of one day, it looks as if only India could end up on the winning side if at all there is a result. Rahul Dravid undoubtedly was the protagonist for the day and he alongside Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni made sure India ended the day with a huge score of 385 runs. Dhoni also scored a ton and considering he came in to bat a little into the second session speaks a lot about his aggressive play.


Earlier in the morning, Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch which looked a good surface to bat on but had something for the pacers especially due to early morning start. Welegedara started of well attacking Gautam Gambhir's middle and off who was happy to give the strike to Virender Sehwag. Sehwag knew only one way and he hit a boundary the first ball he faced. Another boundary came in the next over, and at that moment it seemed the visitors will stay at the recieving end throughout the day.


Welegedara though had other ideas and the freshness in the pitch assisted those plans. He had in his first over swung the ball but in his second, he beat Gambhir with one which didn't swing. The batsman played for the swing and only succeeded in missing the ball. The leather though didn't miss the timber and the left-hander's bad run continued.


Sehwag attacked for a little while longer but a Welegedera perfect inswinger and a brilliant decision by umpire Tony Hill ended his stay. Then it was the chance for the crowd to give a standing ovation for Sachin Tendulkar who had just completed 20 years in international cricket. He greeted them with a perfect cover-drive first ball but the next delivery forced a huge silence in the crowd. The master blaster was dismissed and at 31 for 3 India were in a precarious position.


When Dammika Prasad dismissed VVS Laxman who played one on, memories went back to a few years back when playing against South Africa India had lost way and were dismissed for a mere 76 on the same ground. Even 76 with that flurry of wickets started to look distant but just then Rahul Dravid who would have seen and been in such occasions many a times took charge. From here on Dravid and Yuvraj counter attacked the Lankans. The pitch was good and the ball was coming on perfectly onto the bat for Yuvraj's liking. He drove, cut and pulled the ball with utmost precision. Such was the elegence in his knock that his 50 was studded with 10 boundaries. Dravid on the other hand was much more sedate but nonetheless punishing to the bowling.


From here on only one side dominated the proceedings and the Lankan bowlers couldn't find place to hide. Even Muralitharan wasn't spared as both the left-hander and the right-hander took a liking for him. Though the run-rate dropped a bit after the introduction of spin but still it never went below the 4 runs per over mark.


Rangana Herath was attacked from the moment he was introduced into the attack. Dravid stepped out and lofted him for a six in his first over while Yuvraj hammered him through for four through midwicket in his second. The attack continued post lunch as well with Dravid taking on Welegedara's swing with three boundaries in one over.


The first of these boundaries brought up the right-hander's fifty in 79 balls. Yuvraj though by this time had started to get ruffled by Prasad who had either side of lunch, found his body with bouncers. The post lunch bouncer forced the Southpaw to bottom-edge a pull for four in the next delivery and then the next one was upper-cut over slips for another. His concentration for sure was broken and against the run of play got out in Murali's next over. He stepped out, saw that he was beaten in the flight, but as opposed to thrusting his pad forward, he presented it both bat and pad.


The end of this partnership began the start of the next. Dravid and MS Dhoni came hard at Sri Lanka again and both of them did score at a fast rate without being disturbed a bit. Dhoni in fact had so much confidence in his abilities and the pitch's quality that he started to walk around the crease against the pacers after getting set. Dravid on the other hand continued the good work and now Dhoni took the charge of quick scoring. The skipper's standout shot of the day was the straight six off Muralidharan when it looked he hardly tucked the ball but the ball carried to the stands.


The boundaries kept coming in the third session as milestones continued to be reached. The only one time the partnership was close to be broken was when Dhoni slashed a Prasad delivery and the ball went zooming past between the keeper and the slip fielder. Apart from this the duo were hardly disturbed and kept hitting even some good deliveries to the fence. Even the great Murali couldn't do much to help the proceedings for his side.


Dravid soon raised his 10th 150 and it came off 215 deliveries. Boundaries from him kept coming after that as well as a tired Muralitharan was taken for consecutive boundaries on the off side. It was then Dhoni's turn to reach his ton and he did that in the third over with the second new ball, raising the milestone with a cover driven boundary.


Finally in the 88th over, Dammika Prasad struck and brought back some cheer in the Lankan camp as Dhoni edged one to the wicketkeeper. The damage though had been done by him and he fell at a score from which a loss certainly does not look reality for the home side, which at 32 for four in the first hour of play looked a huge probability.


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