Warnapura stands firm for Sri Lanka

Colombo, July 23:

Sri Lankan opener Malinda Warnapura defied India’s attack with an unbeaten half-century on the opening day of the rain-hit first Test here on Wednesday.

The hosts lost two wickets cheaply after electing to bat in overcast conditions, but left-handed Warnapura (50 not out) helped his team reach 85-2 in the first innings at stumps. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene was on 16 when play was called off due to bad light with 20 overs remaining. No play was possible before tea because of the rain. Indian fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan shared the wickets.

Sri Lanka made a shaky start, losing Michael Vandort in the fourth over. The batsman was caught behind while chasing a Sharma delivery, with Dinesh Karthik taking a high catch to his left. Warnapura added 50 runs for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara before left-arm seamer Zaheer struck a vital blow in the 13th over. Zaheer had Sangakkara (12) caught by former captain Rahul Dravid, who held a low catch at first slip.

Warnapura executed handsome shots on both sides of the wicket during his third Test half-century in five matches. He punished Sharma early in the innings, hitting three fours in an over. India captain Anil Kumble also pressed Sourav Ganguly and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh into the attack in a bid to get one more wicket, but Warnapura and Jayawardene batted sensibly.