Vaas, Murali bowl Lanka to victory
Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan snapped up three wickets in four
overs to lead Sri Lanka to an emphatic 88 run victory over the touring
England team in the opening Test match which concluded at the Asgiriya
Stadium in Kandy yesterday.
The game was probably slipping away from the Sri Lankans and time was
running out before Muralitharan produced a magical spell late in the
evening which helped the home side to take a one nil lead in the three
Test series. The second Test starts on December 9 at the SSC grounds in
Muralitharan who earlier became the highest wicket taker in the game
broke a stubborn seventh wicket stand between Ian Bell and Mathew Prior
and followed up by trapping Ryan Sidebottom leg before wicket despite
having to bowl with the new ball.
Sidebottom’s dismissal however looked doubtful because the television
replays indicated that the batsman had got a big inside edge onto his
Nevertheless Muralitharan also completed one hundred wickets against
England. Paceman Lasith Malinga then added the finishing touches by
uprooting the stumps of Mathew Hoggard in the sixth mandatory over.
Sri Lanka’s success had a great amount of importance because this was
their first win at the Asgiriya Stadium against England having earlier
lost by three wickets in 2001 and drawn the previous game in 2003.
Earlier Ian Bell and Mathew Prior spearheaded England’s recovery with
a record seventh wicket partnership of 109 runs. Bell batted through the
entire afternoon session to complete his 16th Test half century with the
aid of five boundaries from 153 deliveries.
But it was his commitment and determination that really gave England
some hopes of saving the game having frustrated the home side for 153
Mathew Prior also displayed the same kind of concentration and
application with the intention of building up a long innings.
The wicket keeper batsman played an equally good supporting role only
in his eighth appearance for his country while reaching his third Test
fifty from 131 deliveries with the help of six boundaries. But the most
significant fact was that he kept one end occupied for more than two
The Lankans of course moved closer towards their victory by capturing
four wickets during the morning session as England slumped to 125 for 5
at the lunch break. This was mainly due to some splendid seam bowling
from veteran Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando.
In fact left arm paceman Chaminda Vaas struck early by removing the
England captain Michael Vaughn in his second over of the day. Vaas
playing in his 100th Test match made life difficult for the England
batsmen with a mixture of pace and swing to return outstanding figures
of three wickets for 29 runs from his opening spell.
His second victim was the night watchman James Anderson who lost his
off stump against a beautiful delivery. Anderson of course performed his
role well to a certain extent where he occupied the crease for 42
minutes facing 36 deliveries.
Dilhara Fernando then came into the limelight replacing Lasith
Malinga while capturing the wickets of Kevin Pieterson and Paul
Collingwood during a controlled spell of nine overs in the morning
session. Fernando bowled probably the best delivery of the day to pick
up the prize wicket of Pieterson for 18.
The England batsman was completely stunned after he was bowled from a
swinging delivery that looked like missing the off stump at one stage.
Pieterson who did not field during the entire Sri Lankan second innings
following a finger injury was settling down for a big score having
struck four boundaries from 33 deliveries.
Fernando also deceived Paul Collingwood with another superb slow
delivery and England had lost half of their side even before Muttiah
Muralitharan had been introduced into the attack.
Collingwood was batting with a great deal of confidence until then
having put on a useful 35 runs for the firth wicket together with Ian
SRI LANKA 1st Innings: 188
ENGLAND 1st Innings: 281
SRI LANKA 2nd Innings: 442-8 dec.
ENGLAND 2nd innings
Alastair Cook c Silva b Vaas 4
Michael Vaughan c P. Jayawardene b Vaas 5
James Anderson b Vaas 11
Ian Bell b Muralitharan 74
Kevin Pietersen b Fernando 18
P. Collingwood c Sangakkara b Fernando 16
Ravi Bopara lbw b Jayasuriya 34
Matthew Prior b Muralitharan 63
Ryan Sidebottom lbw b Muralitharan 1
Matthew Hoggard b Malinga 8
Monty Panesar not out 2
EXTRAS: (5b, 9lb, 11nb) 25
TOTAL: (all out) 261
Overs: 94. Batting time: 384 minutes.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-4, 2-22, 3-27, 4-55, 5-90, 6-139,
7-248, 8-249, 9-253.
BOWLING: Chaminda Vaas 17-3-56-3 (5nb), Lasith Malinga 15-3-39-1 (4nb),
Muttiah Muralitharan 36-12-85-3 (1nb), Sanath Jayasuriya 14-6-28-1,
Dilhara Fernando 12-1-39-2 (1nb).