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August 8, 2008
False start of the day
Dammika Prasad's inclusion for this match had steadily gathered momentum since Galle, where Sri Lanka's new-ball pairing of Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Kulasekara failed to stop India getting strong starts. His pace had been talked up all series, and Prasad duly took the new ball with the veteran Vaas. He ran in and bowled a seam-up delivery on the legs, around 139kph, and Gautam Gambhir clipped it away for four, clean as could be. Not the most promising of starts.
Bounce-back of the day
Prasad was picked for this Test for his ability to hit the deck and he did just that. Virender Sehwag came forward and drilled a straight drive back to the bowler, who crouched to stop the ball and was hit on the left wrist. After receiving treatment, Prasad removed Sehwag off the very next ball - one that straightened off a length and took the fatal edge. A far better way to hit the deck.
Shot of the day
VVS Laxman is almost always easy on the eye. Left to steer a sinking ship on a relatively flat track, he unfurled his customary silken shots against Sri Lanka's spinners. None was better his treatment of a Muttiah Muralitharan offbreak. Laxman took two steps to reach the pitch of the delivery and whipped it past midwicket to the boundary.
Dismissal of the day
Unfortunately for India, Laxman wasn't able to maintain his aggression or wristy touch. Three balls after essaying that lovely boundary, Laxman was done in - not for the first time - by a carom ball from Ajantha Mendis. It was pretty darn good to watch. Laxman was sucked forward into a defensive push across the line and left stranded by the delivery cutting away from him. He dragged his back foot just outside the crease and Prasanna Jayawardene, arguably the best wicketkeeper in the business, took care of the rest. Smart bowling topped by brilliant glove work; cricket really is about partnerships.
Stand of the day Talking about partnerships, India's last-wicket pair of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma batted 73 minutes together, adding 51 runs to put India's accomplished middle order to shame. They looked to bat straight, tried their dandiest to smother the spin, and waited patiently for the bad deliveries. Having seen out 47 deliveries for 13 runs, Zaheer pulled out a stunner. Clearing his front leg, he heaved Murali over deep midwicket for six. Talk about being positive.
Unexpected dismissal of the day After batting so doggedly Ishant, perhaps expectedly, given his success in the last match, produced India an early wicket. How it came about, however, was not expected. Having operated primarily with full and back-of-a-length stuff outside off stump, Ishant dropped a short one in at 139kph, going down leg stump, and took out Malinda Warnapura in uncharacteristic manner. Warnapura shuffled across, took the bottom hand off the handle and tried to work the ball away, but it didn't bounce as much as anticipated and pegged back his leg stump. Ishant celebrated rather sheepishly.
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