The Sunday Leader

Dhoni Leads India To Record Score

Mahendra Dhoni hit an unbeaten century as India made their highest Test total of 726-9 declared against Sri Lanka on day three of the final Test.

Virender Sehwag was dismissed early by Muttiah Muralitharan for 293, seven short of a record third Test hundred.

Rahul Dravid was out shortly after for 74 but Sachin Tendulkar (53) and VVS Laxman (62) piled on further runs.

Captain Dhoni made a robust 100 then declared, 333 runs ahead of Sri Lanka, who added 11-0 in their second innings.

With two days still remaining, the tourists have it all to do if they are to avoid a defeat that would give India a 2-0 win in the three-Test series.

Indian opener Sehwag began the day on 284 – a total scored from just 239 balls during which he struck the fastest 250 in Test history.

Only 16 more runs from the start of play would have taken him ahead of two-time triple centurions Don Bradman of Australia and West Indian Brian Lara and made him the first player to score three triple hundreds in Tests.

However, only seven runs short of this benchmark he mistimed a drive to a dipping delivery from Muralitharan and provided a catching chance to the spin bowler, who juggled the ball before claiming it.

“Not many people have got two triple centuries and followed that with 293. So there is nothing to be disappointed about,” said the 31-year-old, whose 254-ball innings featured 40 fours and seven sixes.

“I tried to take my time, but maybe the ball was not there to be hit. I misjudged the length and the ball went straight into Murali’s hands.

I watched the highlights last night and this is definitely not a flat pitch. SL are going to have to work hard to save this match

“I always tell myself to bat the full day, and if there is a ball to be hit, just hit it. If I’m able to bat the whole day we will be in a good position.”

Tendulkar and Laxman picked up where their predecessors at the crease had left off, albeit at a slightly slower run-rate. The pair shared a stand of 71 before Tendulkar fell for 53, bowled by seamer Nuwan Kulasekara soon after lunch with the score at 487.

Dhoni dominated the last session with a stunning century, during which he struck six sixes, one of which – a straight drive off Herath – brought up his hundred.The skipper shared a 56-run 10th-wicket stand with last man Pragyan Ojha, who contributed five to the partnership.

Sri Lanka 393 and 11-0 v India 726-9 declared

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