Ageing stars put Sri Lanka on top

Muttiah Muralitharan shattered the world Test-bowling mark and Sanath Jayasuriya excelled with the bat as Sri Lanka took charge of the first Test against England on Monday.

Sri Lanka, trailing by 93 runs on the first innings, easily cleared the deficit and ended the third day’s play on 167-2 in their second knock, a lead of 74 runs with eight wickets in hand.

Muralitharan (35) took 6-55 to surpass retired Australian Shane Warne’s world record of 708 wickets as England, resuming at their overnight score of 186-6, were bowled out for 281 just before lunch.

Jayasuriya (38) then made a spectacular 78 — including six boundaries in one over from James Anderson — in what local media is speculating could be the left-hander’s last Test match.

It was Jayasuriya’s highest Test score in 16 Tests since the last of his 14 centuries in Karachi in 2005 and was reportedly made under pressure to call it a day or be axed.

Michael Vandort, who watched Jayasuriya blaze away at the other end, contributed 31 in an opening stand of 113 that was Sri Lanka’s best against England for the first wicket.

Jayasuriya was trapped leg-before by Matthew Hoggard and Vandort (49) was caught in the slips off Anderson, but Kumar Sangakkara (30 not out) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (0 not out) played out the day.

Muralitharan, who took four wickets on Sunday to equal Warne’s record, bowled Paul Collingwood with the fourth ball of his second spell in the morning session to become Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker.

About 6 000 fans at the Asgiriya Stadium, including his Indian wife Madhimalan and former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga, rose to applaud the off-spinner as fire crackers burst in the stands.

Muralitharan had previously held the record briefly in 2004 when he overtook West Indian fast bowler Courtney Walsh’s 519-wicket mark, before Warne surpassed him.

The Sri Lankan claimed his 61st five-wicket haul in an innings, already the highest by any bowler, with Warne trailing a distant second with 37 such feats.

Collingwood and Ryan Sidebottom grabbed the spotlight at the start by adding 57 for the seventh wicket, which helped England take the lead.

The former made 42 before he became Muralitharan’s record victim, while left-handed Sidebottom contributed 31.

Muralitharan bowled nine overs on the third morning without success as Collingwood and Sidebottom played him comfortably.

Sidebottom gave England the lead in the day’s first over when he drove seamer Dilhara Fernando for a boundary and then flicked Muralitharan for another four to bring up his side’s 200.

Collingwood, looking at ease against Muralitharan, cut the spinner for a boundary and even reverse swept him for three runs.

Jayawardene signalled the end of Muralitharan’s first spell when he claimed the second new ball in the 81st over, the 19th of the morning.

The old ball had produced 52 runs in 18 overs on the third day with Sidebottom contributing 28 of them, including three fours.

Lasith Malinga broke the stand in his second over with the new ball when he forced Sidebottom to edge a low catch to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

Muralitharan removed Collingwood and had Hoggard stumped for his 710th wicket before Chaminda Vaas ended the innings by trapping Anderson leg-before. — AFP



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Kuldip Lal
Once a journalist. Now finally doing something worthwhile. Here I speak only for myself. Kuldip Lal has over 1032 followers on Twitter.

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