Gambhir century raises India's hope of saving first Test

Gambhir century raises India's hope of saving first Test

Gautam Gambhir plays a shot on the fourth day of the first test match between India and Sri Lanka at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. PTI

Resuming at 190 for two, India lost nightwatchman Amit Mishra just after 45 minutes of play before Gambhir reached his fourth hundred at home in the company of Sachin Tendulkar with a glanced boundary off Angelo Mathews.

It was Gambhir's third hundred, all scored in the second innings, following his marathon 10 and a half hour match-saving 137 at Napier and 167 at Wellington in the last two Tests of the three-Test series played in New Zealand in March-April.

The 28-year-old Delhi player and ICC Test Player of the Year completed his ton with half hour to go for lunch and remained unconquered at the interval with 105 runs to his name off 213 balls with 12 fours in it.
Tendulkar, who started off fluently with three early boundaries before slowing down a bit, was the other unbeaten batsman at lunch and was batting on 22, after facing 56 balls and striking four fours in the team total of 256 for 3 in 74 overs.
With four more sessions left in the match, a strong batting line-up to follow and the wicket showing no signs of having deteriorated, the home team would be fancying their chances to leave this city on level terms.

Needing 144 more runs to make the visitors bat again after having conceded a huge first innings lead of 334 runs, the home team were 78 runs behind at the break on a fifth-day wicket holding no demons.
Mishra, sent in to protect the main batsmen late last evening at the fall of Rahul Dravid's wicket, stuck to his task for over 45 minutes before he was dismissed by Sri Lanka all-rounder Angelo Mathews, caught brilliantly at leg gully by Tillakaratne Dilshan.

The leg break bowler, who was very expensive and conceded over 200 runs for a lone wicket, did his task of denying Sri Lanka an early breakthrough in the morning.

He faced 51 balls in making 24, falling to the 26th delivery he received today when Dilshan dived to his right to take the catch off Mathews. Mishra also helped Gambhir take the score from 169 to 209 by adding 40 runs for the third wicket.
Tendulkar came in and started stroking the ball sweetly as he cover-drove the accurate and miserly Mathews for a four and then hit danger man Muthiah Muralitharan for successive fours in one over.
Gambhir also opened up and raced to his hundred by hitting left arm spinner Rengana Herath for two fours before he glanced Mathews to the rope. It is his first hundred against the visitors and came after a stay of 287 minutes.
By lunch, the fourth wicket duo had added 47 runs without being separated and India put on 66 runs in 29 overs in the pre-lunch period.

At the start of the day, Sri Lanka suffered a crucial blow as fast bowler Dammika Prasad was not able to bowl due to a hamstring injury. Matthews bowled well in his absence with some variation on the dead track.
Gambhir, however, controlled his natural instincts and played an innings that reminded many of his match saving 137 against New Zealand in Napier earlier this year. He took some time to get to his 90s, but then hit three fours to get his third consecutive century and the seventh overall.

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