Murali’s perfect eight in 10-wicket Sri Lanka win (Lead)

July 22nd, 2010 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Galle (Sri Lanka), July 22 (IANS) Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan rolled his golden arm over for one last time in Test cricket, claiming his 800th wicket in his side’s 10-wicket victory over India in the first cricket Test here Thursday.
Murali had to work hard for his last wicket as India’s last pair Ishant Sharma (31) and Pragyan Ojha (13) defied him for quite a while before the legend eventually found the Indian left-arm spinner’s edge to be caught at slip by Mahela Jayawardena.

India, who started the fifth day at 181 for five, were bowled out for 338 in the second innings, with Sri Lanka needing only 95 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three match series. Sri Lanka knocked off the runs in just 14.1 overs, immediately after tea with Tillakaratne Dilshan blazing 68 off 70 balls with six fours and one six. Tharanga Paranavitana made 23.

Malinga, who was making a comeback to Tests after more than two-year injury layoff, took five wickets for 40 in the second innings while Murali, who took five wickets in the first innings, ended with the match figures of 8-191.

The only consolation for India, who were bundled out for 276 in the first innings in reply to Sri Lanka’s 520 for eight declared, was that they escaped an embarrasement of an innings defeat in a match in which the entire second day’s play was washed off by rain.

Murali’s 800 wickets came at an average of 22.72. He has taken 10 wickets in a match an astonishing 22 times and five wickets in an innings 67 times — the most by any bowler. Australia Shane Warne is the second best with 708 wickets in 145 Tests at an average of 25.41.

The Indian tail frustrated Murali and batted around V.V.S Laxman, who made 69 from 127 balls. He shared a 68-run eighth wicket stand with Sharma, who played a gritty innings facing 106 balls. After Laxman was run out, Ojha consumed another 50 balls.

Murali found it difficult to break a resolute last-wicket stand, though he beat the bat and struck the pads a number of times. Sharma was making good use of his feet and showing a straight bat to whatever Murali threw at him. It was a lesson for the top order who fumbled against the spinner in the first innings.

After he snared Ojha to wrap up the Indian innings, Murali was lustily cheered all the way back to the pavilion with his teammates carrying him on their shoulders. He received a standing ovation from his family and others in the pavilion.

The real damage was, however, done by Malinga, who dismissed Mahendra Singh Dhoni (4) and Abhimanyu Mithun (25).

Malinga crashed Dhoni’s stumps with a stinging fast delivery and got rid of Mithun with a similar fast ball.

India were soon reduced to 246 for eight and looked heading towards an innings defeat, before Laxman and Sharma dug their heels.

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