India on top in warm-up game

India bundled out Sri Lanka Board XI for 224 on the opening day of their warm-up game in Colombo.

updated: July 23, 2008 18:16 IST
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India started their tour of Sri Lanka on an impressive note with their bowlers putting up a tidy display to bundle out Sri Lanka Board XI for a modest 224 on a rain-truncated opening day of the three-day warm-up match here on Friday.

Electing to bat, the home team never really recovered from a shaky start and could have been skittled out for a much lower first innings total had it not been for a resolute 100-run fifth wicket partnership between Thilina Kandamby (84) and Chamara Silva (68).

Captain Anil Kumble (3/30) was the pick of the Indian bowlers while paceman Zaheer Khan (2/35) and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (2/52) chipped in with two wickets each at the Nondescripts Cricket Club.

The Indians, playing their only warm-up game before the three-match Test series gets underway from July 23, were struggling at four for one at close with opener Gautam Gambhir back in the pavilion.

The track at the NCC gave some assistance to the bowlers and the visitors exploited the conditions reasonably well to capture wickets at periodic intervals.

The lanky paceman Ishant Sharma drew first blood for the Indians by getting rid of opener Mahela Udawatte (7) with wicket keeper Dinesh Kaarthick taking a smart catch.

The other opener Upul Tharanga returned to the pavilion soon after to reduce the hosts to a precarious 20 for two with Zaheer, returning to international cricket after brief injury lay-off, picking up his first scalp.

The home team was left gasping at 82 for four as captain Jehan Mubarak (25) and Chamara Kapudegera (1) fell in quick succession to give the Indians a firm control of the game.

But Kandamby and Chamara Silva stemmed the rot with a crucial partnership as they mixed caution with aggression to bail the team out of a tight spot.

Kandamby slammed 11 boundaries during his 138-ball knock while Silva hit six boundaries during his innings, which came off 108 balls.

After the two batsmen were dismissed, the tail-enders caved in quickly and the innings folded up in 71.5 overs.

The Indian bowlers did a good job but the fielding was not upto the mark though it improved as the match progressed.

Harbhajan Singh, coming out of a five-match ban, took his own time to find his length and direction though he ended up with two wickets.

Though Munaf Patel got only one wicket, he found his line and length straightaway, which should hold him in good stead for the Test series. His fellow pacer Zaheer Khan, who took two wickets, impressed from the word go and kept troubling the batsmen with his varied pace and swing bowling.

But it was left to the old war horse and skipper Kumble to polish off the Board XI's innings with his immaculate bowling with the opposition batsmen finding it difficult to negotiate him.

About 45 minutes of play was lost after lunch and a few minutes before the end of the day due to rain and bad light, but the thin crowd got its money's worth with as many as 11 wickets falling during the day.

At the fag end of the first day, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir took the field with the latter surviving an LBW decision and then skying up a delivery off Dilhara Fernando over the third man for a four.

The southpaw, however, did not get past the gully two balls later as he was lapped up smartly by Board XI skipper Jehan Mubarak for 4.

Sehwag remained not out without scoring, as he did not face any delivery.

Dravid, who was padded up, could not take the field after Gambhir's dismissal as the umpires called off play due to bad light.

As expected, India fielded their seniors ahead of the Test, match, as many of them have not played for a while since they were not part of the Asia cup.