Harbhajan jolts SL on spinners’ day

Galle, August 1:

Harbhajan Singh bagged four quick wickets in a magnificent spell to put Sri Lanka under pressure in the second Test against India here on Friday.

The off-spinner (4-71) removed well-set Kumar Sangakkara and Malinda Warnapura in successive overs before Sri Lanka struggled to reach 215-5 in their first innings at stumps in reply to India’s 329 on the second day.

Sangakkara (68) and Warnapura (66) helped Sri Lanka overcome the third-ball dismissal of Michael Vandort with a 133-run stand for the second wicket before Harbhajan struck to restore India’s fortunes on a spinners’ day. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene was unbeaten on 46 and Prasanna Jayawardene on five not out at the close.

India were bowled out on the stroke of lunch after resuming at 214-4, with Virender Sehwag (201 not out) becoming only the second Indian after Sunil Gavaskar to carry his bat through the innings. He also became the 10th Indian to complete 5,000 Test runs during his fifth score of 200 and more, including two triple-centuries. He hit four sixes and 22 fours in his 231-ball knock.

The Indian batsmen, especially Sehwag, were involved in an engrossing duel with Sri Lanka’s unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis (6-117), who took a maiden haul of five or more wickets in an innings.

Sri Lanka then got a dose of their own medicine as they were jolted by Harbhajan, who had Warnapura caught by Gautam Gambhir and then held a return catch to account for Sangakkara. Harbhajan then bagged two wickets in the space of four balls when he trapped Thilan Samaraweera (14) leg-before and had Tillakaratne Dilshan caught by a Gambhir.

Warnapura exploded with a flurry of boundaries early in the innings, hitting Zaheer Khan for four successive fours. He struck one six and 10 fours.

The Indian cricketers wore black armbands in memory of former Test batsman Ashok Mankad, who died on Friday.