Saturday, August 22, 2009

Muralitharan stars in Sri Lanka win

Masterful spinner Muttiah Muralitharan claimed three wickets as Sri Lanka completed an easy 202-run victory over New Zealand.
New Zealand, resuming on 30 for one and needing 383 more to overhaul a target of 413 for an unlikely victory, were instead bowled out for 210 just before tea as Sri Lanka took a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series on the final day of the first Test in Galle.

It's all about numbers

Left-arm fast bowler Thilan Thushara set the tone with an outstanding spell in the morning, giving the home side crucial early breakthroughs with the wickets of Martin Guptill (18) and Tim McIntosh (nought).

Part-time bowler Mahela Jayawardene then dismissed Ross Taylor (16) before Muralitharan and fellow spinner Ajantha Mendis picked off the remaining wickets to complete victory in a Test which had been hit by rain from the first day.

The final day, however, began in bright weather and the Black Caps' overnight pair of Taylor and Guptill started cautiously against Sri Lanka' fast bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara and Thushara.

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Kulasekara, who started off proceedings with the ball for the home side, began with successive maidens, while Thushara conceded just two from his first two overs.

At the start of his third over, Thushara decided to come around the wicket to Guptill and immediately struck with a beauty of a delivery which swung into the right-hander and moved away a touch off the seam, hitting the top of off-stump.
Thushara then dismissed McIntosh, who had top-scored with a gritty 69 in the first innings, for an eight-ball duck although credit ought to go to Thilan Samaraweera.

Fielding at third slip, Samaraweera grasped the edge just inches from the ground and while McIntosh stood his ground, the dismissal was confirmed by the television umpire.

Top Performer: Tillakaratne Dilshan
Surprisingly, Jayawardene was the first bowling change in the morning session and he was immediately rewarded with the wicket of Taylor.
Jayawardene, bowling a mixture of off-spin and medium pace, drifted down leg and Taylor obliged with the edge which was neatly snaffled by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori (67), who had promoted himself up the order, had stemmed the tide somewhat with a 41-run stand for fifth wicket.

Oram had begun positively, but lived dangerously when the spinners came on. He eventually fell while attempting to sweep Mendis, only to be rapped right in front by the spinner.

It left the visitors tottering at 125 for five at the lunch interval and the Sri Lankans made short work of the lower half of the order once play resumed after the break.

Jesse Ryder was Muralitharan's first victim, caught by Prasanna for 24, while Vettori's battling innings was ended in similar fashion by Mendis.

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The spinner got one to turn sharply from the rough and Vettori, who had earlier brought up his 20th Test half-century with a single off Thushara, feathered an edge which was neatly snaffled by the wicketkeeper.

His dismissal left Brendon McCullum battling with the tail, but they were no match for Mendis and Muralitharan.

Jeetan Patel was Muralitharan's second victim, stumped for 22, while Iain O'Brien made only five when he was caught by Tharanga Paranavitana at short leg off Muralitharan.

The spinner brought the curtains down on New Zealand's innings by running out McCullum for 29.

Muralitharan finished with three for 88 from 27 overs.

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