Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day

Dravid's slips, Murali's swats

Plays of the day for the third day of the first Test between Sri Lanka and India in Galle

Sidharth Monga in Galle

July 20, 2010

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An ecstatic Tharanga Paranavitana savours his first Test century, Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day, July 18, 2010
Looks like Nelson has got Tharanga Paranavitana's number © AFP
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Nelson has got Paranavitana's number
Tharanga Paranavitana added one to his overnight score of 110 before he got a peach from Ishant Sharma; the bowler's second delivery of the day. If Nelson is indeed unlucky for Paranavitana, he would have done well to have debuted either before Dammika Prasad or after Angelo Mathews. As it turns out, Paranavitana is the 111th cricketer to have played Tests for Sri Lanka, and bears that number on his jersey.

Slipping at slips
Rahul Dravid hasn't had much to celebrate on this tour so far, and he will particularly rue two moments. One came on the first morning of the tour game, when he dropped a sitter from Upul Tharanga, who went on to score 98 more runs. Today came an identical drop: slightly lower than knee-high at first slip, at an easy pace, covered well by the palms, but again the ball somehow popped out.

Bad luck, good luck
The bowler at the receiving end of that drop was Dravid's Karnataka team-mate, Abhimanyu Mithun. Two balls later, though, Mithun made sure the drop didn't cost him or his team any runs. With a sharp inducker, he got Thilan Samaraweera lbw, but in real time the ball seemed like it was going down. Hawk-Eye showed it would have kissed the top of leg.

Precise in the slips
When Ishant Sharma was bowling exceptionally well in the first session, MS Dhoni called Gautam Gambhir to reinforce the slip cordon, getting four men in there. Gambhir doesn't usually field at slip, and was directed by Laxman where exactly to stand, in an interesting manner. According to Laxman, the ideal distance between the slips is a certain number of steps when walking heel to toe. So how he determined where Gambhir would stand, dragging his mate along with him, provided an amusing sight.

Murali's farewell continues
It is difficult for this Test match to not have a Murali context to anything that happens. As soon as the fifth wicket fell, all eyes started to pan towards the dressing room to see if he would come out for one last hit with the bat. Out came Rangana Herath. When the seventh wicket fell, it had to be Murali. Everybody got ready, and out came Lasith Malinga. And then the two had a merry partnership.

Murali finally arrived after Malinga's dismissal, to fireworks and a guard of honour from the Indian fielders. Ishant was not as generous. The first ball to Murali was a bouncer. Murali played the shot that has brought much joy and amusement over the years; clearing the leg and swat-pulling with eyes wide shut. He got off the mark with a similar shot, off Mithun. Another guard of honour followed as he came out to field, from the ball boys and his team-mates this time. His first touch on the ball was another signature move: sticking his foot out to field the ball at point. A timely reminder that Murali was not just about those ripping offbreaks and doosras.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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