COLOMBO // Stuart Law, Sri Lanka's assistant coach, has challenged his batsman to lay the platform for victory by posting a score of 500 today. Sri Lanka began their bid to seal a third successive home series win against India by reaching 293 for four at stumps at P Sara Oval. Kumar Sangakkara led the way with a knock of 75, Mahela Jayawardene was out for 56 to a disputable lbw decision and Thilan Samaraweera (65 not out) and Angelo Mathews (26 not out) were the men at the crease when bad light stopped play.
Law expects the unbeaten pair to hit the accelerator this morning and propel the home side towards a first-innings total that would help set up a victory that would move them up to No 2 in the ICC Test rankings. "If you look at the averages and what has happened in the past, 350-400 is a pretty good score," Law said at the end of the first day. "If we try and bat as long as we can, the way we play, who knows, 450 might be. The closer we get to 500; it sets up for a good victory.
"This pitch looks like a more even contest between bat and ball. "If you bat well, you score runs, if you bowl well we have already seen balls flying past the edge to both seamers and spinners. So for me, it's going to be a more of a test for the skills of the batsmen." Law was disappointed with the dismissals of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who was run out for 41 on the stroke of lunch, and Sangakkara, his captain, who was caught by Virender Sehwag at long-off
Sachin Tendulkar, the India batsman, yesterday became the most capped Test cricketer when he started his 169th match, surpassing the former Australia captain Steve Waugh's record of 168. Sri Lanka leads the series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Galle by 10 wickets. * Agencies