Sri Lanka re­quire the Mu­rali magic

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

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