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Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 13:37 UK

Rain hits opening day in Colombo

First Test, Colombo (day one, close): Sri Lanka 85-2 v India
Sri Lankan cricketer Malinda Warnapura
Malinda Warnapura compiled 50 in a shortened first day in Colombo

Malinda Warnapura hit an unbeaten 50 as Sri Lanka reached 85-2 at stumps on the rain-hit opening day of the first Test against India in Colombo on Wednesday.

Only 22 overs were bowled in two hours as rain and bad light curtailed play.

Opener Michael Vandort (3) and Kumar Sangakkara (12) were dismissed cheaply, but Warnapura's third Test half-century steadied the home side's early nerves.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and chose to bat, delaying spin sensation Ajantha Mendis's debut.

Despite the incessant rain of the past 10 days, the well-covered Sinhalese Sports Club pitch appeared ideal for batting.

But India's seam attack made a significant breakthrough with the score on seven when Vandort edged a sharp, rising delivery from Ishant Sharma to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, in the side for the absent Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Despite the early loss, Warnapura and Sangakkara consolidated and built a 50-run partnership before the loss of their second wicket.

Zaheer Khan, back in the India side after a seven-month injury absence, tempted Sangakkara with a full, swinging delivery, which he attempted to drive - only to edge a catch into the safe hands of Rahul Dravid at first slip.

Warnapura, ably assisted by Jayawardene (16 not out), reached his half-century before play was prematurely halted.


With Sri Lanka currently operating without three match-fit seamers - Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga and Farveez Maharoof - the onus will be on spin if the weather relents over the next four days.

India have also opted for slowing bowling depth, with captain Anil Kumble and the recently recalled Harbhajan Singh in their starting XI.

However, the home side also have the added intrigue of debutant Mendis to bowl alongside world leading Test wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan.

The 23-year-old unorthodox spinner starred in Sri Lanka's recent Asia Cup final victory over India in Karachi, taking 6-13 from eight overs.

"He is another sensation," said Sri Lanka Cricket board chairman Arjuna Ranatunga. "He is a freak bowler."

The game will also trial players being allowed to challenge umpiring decisions and have them referred to TV replays.

Meanwhile, India batsman Sachin Tendulkar will attempt to score the 172 runs he needs to overtake Brian Lara's Test record of 11,953.

The tourists also recalled opener Gautam Gambhir in place of Wasim Jaffer, who has been dropped from their 16-man squad.

see also
Sri Lanka put IPL above England
10 Jul 08 |  Sri Lanka

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