Skipper MS Dhoni played a boring knock for about an hour after the Tea Break but with India having just the one wicket in hand finally opened up his shoulders to provide top class entertainment to the spectators. With just Pragyan Ojha left with him, Dhoni farmed the strike and muscled some monstrous hits to race away from a sedate 50 to a 3rd test hundred. As and when he got there, MS Dhoni declared the innings with the score at an imposing 726 for 9!
India got a heavy lead of 333 which could be more than enough to force an innings victory with two full days to go on a turning wicket. Sri Lanka had to face just three overs of spin with the new ball before stumps which they did without any damage. The first half of the final session was a complete drag with both MS Dhoni and Zaheer Khan showing no intent in taking any risks. At a moment, it looked as if Dhoni was trying to bat India for a draw! After defending most of the 50 deliveries, Zaheer Khan decided to send one out of the ground but was well caught by Kulasekara off Murali. The pair of Dhoni and Zaheer had put on 32 in 16.4 overs.
Ranganna Herath with his two-finger arm ball got rid of Sreesanth and India at that stage was 670 for 9 with the lead at 277. The pitch was still good enough and India needed as many runs as possible if they wanted to avoid batting last. Dhoni much to the delight of the spectators decided to take on the spinners and that resulted in a few lusty blows which sailed miles over the boundary ropes. The Skipper brought up his third century with a six and immediately declared the innings having made Sri Lanka field for 163.3 overs and in terms of time – 705 minutes! Dhoni’s 100 came in 154 balls with 3 fours and 6 sixes. Pragyan Ojha got to face only 14 balls in a partnership of 56 in about 12 overs. This total of 726 for 9 is India’s highest ever total in Tests.
Sri Lankan bowlers were mentally drained out with Herath taken for 240 runs in 53.3 overs and Murali going for 195 runs in 51 overs. There were just 10 maidens bowled by the Sri Lankans in the 163.3 overs.
Originally posted 2009-12-04 13:56:40.