Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Murali set to weave magic in final overseas test

MUMBAI, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The stage is set for master spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to weave his magic against India in his farewell overseas test, Tillakaratne Dilshan said after guiding Sri Lanka to a fighting score on Wednesday.

"In the dressing room he's very excited as the track offers some bounce and turn," Dilshan told reporters after striking 109 as the tourists made 366 for eight at stumps in the final test. "He'll be able to do big damage in the next couple of days."

Sri Lanka opted to bat first but Dilshan said Muralitharan was wringing his hands in glee at the chance to bowl on a sporting pitch for the first time on this tour.

The world record holder for test and one-day international wickets will retire from the longer format of the game next year and the visitors are hoping he can help them record a first test win on Indian soil to square the series at 1-1.

The 37-year-old Muralitharan had a rough time in the first two matches, picking up five wickets at a cost of 396 runs on unhelpful pitches.

However, a more favourable track on Wednesday helped off-spinner Harbhajan Singh derive turn and jump to claim four wickets that saw India rally.

"This is a very good test wicket. The bowlers, if they bowl in the right areas, can exploit the conditions," said Dilshan, who shared in three crucial partnerships including 74 for the fifth wicket with Angelo Mathews who remained unbeaten on 86.

Dilshan, who scored his second century of the series, was unlucky to be given out to Harbhajan as television replays showed the ball had not hit the bat before popping to short-leg.

"If the referrals system was there, I'd still be batting out there," he said of the contentious Umpires Decision Review System which is not being used in this series.

"It's not easy to bat and I thought the two spinners had an excellent day out there," he added.

"We should try and get more than 400 runs. Angelo is looking good out there and Murali, if he can get us 20-30 runs, and if we pass 400 -- it's going to be good for us."

Sri Lanka, yet to win a test in India since their first visit in 1982, trail 1-0 in the three-match series after losing the second test by an innings and 144 runs.

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