Murali magic sets India back

2010-07-20 15:38

Galle - Retiring spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan dismissed Sachin Tendulkar cheaply as Sri Lanka gained control of the rain-ravaged first Test against India on Tuesday.

The world's most successful bowler, who was eight short of the 800-wicket mark in his final appearance, trapped batting record holder Tendulkar leg-before for eight before stumps on the third day.

The blow left India on an uneasy 140-3 at close after a superb rearguard action by Sri Lanka's tailenders helped the hosts pile up 520-8 declared in their first innings by tea.

Virender Sehwag hit a typically robust 85 not out to keep India afloat following the cheap dismissals of opener Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar in the final session of play.

Sehwag hit 14 boundaries and a six before play was called off 10.2 overs early due to bad light at the Galle International Stadium.

The sun broke for the first time in two days to allow play to begin after the entire second day had been washed out and 22 overs were lost on the first day due to heavy rain.

India's seamers had grabbed four important wickets, three of them to the lanky Ishant Sharma, as Sri Lanka slipped from Sunday's total of 256-2 to 344-6 before lunch.

But Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga proved unlikely saviours with career-best scores during a rousing stand of 115 for the eighth wicket.

Herath, who had put on 49 for the seventh wicket with Prasanna Jayawardene, remained unbeaten on 80 with 10 fours and a six.

Malinga smashed nine boundaries and two sixes in a breezy 64 off 75 balls before his dismissal, which signalled the entry of Muralitharan to the crease.

Muralitharan, who retires after this Test, was welcomed to the crease by fireworks in the stands as the Indian fielders lined up to applaud him with a guard of honour.

The off-spinner, who led his team onto the field when India batted, came on to bowl the 17th over and removed Tendulkar with his 16th delivery as the batsman missed a sweep shot.

Muralitharan now has two days to add to his record 793 Test wickets as Sri Lanka attempt to push home the advantage.

When play started an hour late on Tuesday, India's young seam attack of Sharma and debutant Abhimanyu Mithun rattled the Sri Lankans with appreciable movement both in the air and off the wicket.

Opener Tharanga Paranavitana, who hit a maiden Test century on the first day, managed to add just one run to his score of 110 when he was caught behind off Sharma in the day's second over.

Mithun struck 10 balls later by trapping new batsman Thilan Samaraweera leg-before for zero, two deliveries after the batsman was dropped at first slip by Rahul Dravid.

Mahela Jayawardene put on 62 for the fifth wicket with Angelo Mathews, before he was claimed leg-before by Sharma with a ball that dipped in sharply.

The former captain made an attractive 48 with six boundaries.

Mathews fell for 41 just before the lunch break when Laxman dived to his right at second slip to pick up a low catch off Sharma.