Dravid returns to runscoring ways

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/d/dravid.jpg' class='caption'> Dravid's unbeaten 67 enabled the Indians to declare their first innings at 238 for 5 at tea in reply to the Lankan total of 266.

Updated: August 05, 2007 17:09 IST
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The Indian top order availed of some useful batting practice with most of them spending some quality time in the middle on the second day of the three-day cricket tour match against Sri Lanka 'A' at Grace Road on Saturday.

Replying to the Lankans' first innings score of 266, India declared at 238 for four with skipper Rahul Dravid showing a welcome return to runs with a well compiled unbeaten score of 67, which should augur well for the third Test against England starting at The Oval on August 9.

India lead the series 1-0 after their seven wicket victory at Trent Bridge.

Gautam Gambhir (67) and Wasim Jaffer (48) were the other notable contributors for India.

In their second essay, Sri Lanka 'A' were 112 for one.

India tasted early success when paceman Ishant Sharma had M L Udawatte caught by VVS Laxman for no score with just two runs on the board.

However, Michael Vandort (61) and MDK Perera (48) put on an unbeaten century partnership to deny Indians further success.

Dravid was in prime form as he anchored the innings and enabled the Indians to declare their first innings at tea.

Yuvraj Singh (15) was the other not out batsman.

Resuming the day at 25 for one, India were well served by opener Wasim Jaffer (48) and Gautam Gambhir who put on 85 runs for the second wicket.

Gambhir retired hurt soon after lunch on 67, and though Mahendra Singh Dhoni (0) and VVS Laxman (14) were dismissed cheaply, Dravid looked in great touch as he took the attack to the bowlers under the blazing sun.

Great authority

The Indian captain cut, pulled and drove with great authority, having arrived at the crease just before lunch when

Jaffer was out with the total on 105.

He treated the spinners and pacers alike as he placed his shots between fielders and with lovely timing too.

Jaffer was the only wicket to fall in the session, caught at mid-on by Akalanka Ganegama when he tried to go over the top.

Both Jaffer and Gambhir enjoyed the conditions as they batted without much discomfort.

Gambhir survived an early chance and a few close shouts for leg before before he found his touch.

However, Jaffer looked in brilliant nick as he played some gorgeous drives on either sides of the wicket.

Jaffer's backfoot cover drive off Ganegama was a beauty and there was a fine glance that was also a gem off pacer Dammika Prasad.

Gambhir relished the cuts and pulls. He was also not afraid to take the aerial route. He lofted leg-spinner Lokuarachchi over mid-wicket to the boundary.

Then, just before lunch, he smashed Prasad for two consecutive fours through extra cover. The left-hander was retired after adding just three runs after lunch.

Dhoni was promoted in the order to number five. However, he did little damage to the bowling and was bowled by paceman Prasad for a duck.

Laxman batted 35 minutes for his 14 before he fell to left arm spinner Herath, mistiming his drive.

Yuvraj Singh eventually had to come out to bat at number 7, about half an hour before tea.

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