Sri Lanka clinch series with eight-wicket win

August 11th, 2008 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rex Clementine
Colombo, Aug 11 (IANS) An injury-ridden India lost their second successive series and third in all in Sri Lanka when they were beaten in the third and final Test by eight wickets at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium here Monday. The historic venue that hosted Sri Lanka’s first ever Test win 23 years ago saw the Sri Lankans completely outplaying the Indians in the series decider after India had squared the series by winning the second Test Match in Galle.

Sri Lanka were set a modest 122 runs target to win and despite losing two early wickets, the hosts got home safely with a day to spare as Mahela Jayawardene and Malinda Warnapura added 100 runs for the unbroken third wicket stand.

Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis made the difference between the two sides as he picked up a record 26 wickets in the series improving on a record that had stood for 62 years for a debutant in a three match series. Former England and Surrey fast bowler Sir Eric Bedser had claimed 24 wickets in a three-match debut series, also against India, way back in 1946.

Mendis, who made his Test debut in the first Test at Colombo’s SSC ground, picked up five wickets in the first innings in the third Test and finished the game with eight wickets.

Mendis also beat the record for most number of wickets in a Test series between Sri Lanka and India going past team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan, who had claimed 23 wickets in the 2001 series between the teams in Sri Lanka, which the hosts won 2-1.

Injuries badly affected the Indians. Fast bowler Ishant Sharma didn’t bowl in the second innings with a right gluteus muscle contusion while star batsman Sachin Tendulkar hurt his left elbow while fielding during the second day’s play and V.V.S. Laxman sprained his ankle during warm up ahead of second day’s action.

Tendulkar, who had arrived in Sri Lanka needing 172 runs to break Brian Lara’s world record for most runs in Test cricket, fell short of the mark by 77 runs and failed to score a half-century in six innings. Laxman, meanwhile, batted with a runner during India’s second innings and was left stranded on 61 as India were bowled out for 268 in their second innings.

Apart from Laxman’s second fifty in three Tests, only Rahul Dravid managed a fifty in India’s second innings here, his only half-century in the series.

Sourav Ganguly, one of India’s pillars of their famous middle order, too had a poor series finishing with 96 runs in the series in six innings.

Between the four of them, Dravid, Ganguly, Tendulkar and Laxman, managed just three fifties in 24 innings.

After bowling out India for 249 runs in their first innings in good batting conditions, the Sri Lankans gained a vital 147 run lead thanks to a patient 144 by Man of the Match Kumar Sangakkara.

Vital contributions by the Sri Lankan tail helped the hosts to reach 396. India were reduced to 268 in their second innings.

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