Sri Lanka require the Murali magic
SRI LANKA will need Muttiah Muralitharan to rediscover his rhythm in the final Test in Mumbai if they are to come back from a humbling defeat against India and square the series.
The 37-year-old Muralitharan, the world record holder for most Test wickets, took only two for 175 in Kanpur as India completed victory by an innings and 144 runs to take a 1-0 lead.
His perfor mance in the drawn first Test was unremarkable too, with his three wickets costing over 73 runs apiece and skipper Kumar Sangakkara needs his star spinner in more threatening form.
“It does become a concern if he is not picking up the wickets you know he can,” Sangakkara said after India’s win yesterday. “But he is your star bowler and you back him to do it sooner than later.”
He added: “We’ve still got a lot of action in Mumbai. We can still square the series and that is motivation enough.”
India can replace South Africa at the top of the world rankings if they complete a 2-0 win but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has urged his players to forget the ranking and concentrate on their consistency.
“Everything went perfectly well for us,” he told reporters after India’s 100th Test win. “It (the top ranking) will be an added responsibility. Becoming the number one side is not important. We have to maintain our performance level.”
The margin of victory was India’s greatest over Sri Lanka, surpassing the previous best of an innings and 119 runs in Lucknow in 1994.
Forced to follow on after a first-innings collapse, Sri Lanka were all out for 269 in their second innings before tea on the fourth day at the Green Park ground.
Sri Lanka were 206-8 at lunch and although the visitors rattled up 149 runs in the morning and staved off defeat well into the afternoon, they were not even close to making India bat again after the hosts piled up 642 in their first innings.
Middle-order batsman Thilan Samaraweera was the only Sri Lankan batsman to score a half-century in the match, remaining unbeaten on 78 when the final wicket fell.
Indian off spinner Harbhajan Singh led the bowling after Sri Lanka resumed on their overnight 57-4, finishing with figures of 3/98 as he claimed five wickets in the match.
Samaraweera hit his 21st Test fifty and added 73 runs for the ninth wicket with Ajantha Mendis (27) before the hosts wrapped up proceedings in the next over.
Fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth’s six-wicket heroics on the third day had helped dismiss Sri Lanka for a dismal 229 in the first innings and hand India a winning 413run lead. He returned match figures of 6/122 and was rewarded with the man-of-thematch award to cap a splendid Test comeback after 19 months away from the longest form of cricket.
West Indies were 134 for five at stumps on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies at the Gabba in Brisbane yesterday, still trailing the hosts by 346 runs.
West Indies began their replay quite briskly as Chris Gayle exploded just before the tea break, but any hope of a sustained effort was quickly doused as they lost four wickets in a hectic hour after the interval.
Earlier, Australia resumed at 322/5 and thanks to half-centuries from Marcus North and Nathan Hauritz were able to declare on 480/8.
North was patient throughout his 79 off 157 balls, but Hauritz was more aggressive as he finished unbeaten on 50 which included nine boundaries.
New Zealand were 148 for eight in their second innings at stumps on the fourth day of the first Test against Pakistan in Dunedin yesterday, giving them an overall lead of 244 runs.
Shane Bond took 5/107 – his fifth five-wicket haul – on his return to the Test arena to help dismiss Pakistan for 332, while Chris Martin finished with 3/63, but skilful bowling from Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif almost neutralised the 97-run advantage that the Black Caps had held after the first innings. – Reuters and Sports Staff