Cricket: Sri Lanka earn more Tests with England

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The Independent Online
FOLLOWING THEIR historic 10-wicket triumph at The Oval on Sunday in the one-off Test match, Sri Lanka can look forward to the prospect of more Tests against England in the coming years.

Sri Lanka surged to their first Test victory in this country when their off-spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, recorded the fifth best match haul in Test history of 16 for 220.

It is only the fourth Test played by Sri Lanka in this country since they became a Test-playing nation 17 years ago but their growing reputation, underlined over the last five days, has been rewarded by a better deal with England.

Three Tests are planned for England's 2000-2001 tour of Sri Lanka and the likelihood is that the Sri Lankans will have more than one Test here in 2002. The two teams have so far met six times, all in one-off Tests.

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe have already played at least one three-Test series against Sri Lanka, and West Indies have played them in a two-Test series.

Sri Lanka have become a greater force in Test matches through formidable batting and a varied spin attack, with Muralitharan the jewel in their slow bowling crown.

Muralitharan is Sri Lanka's most successful bowler and his 7 for 155 and 9 for 65 at The Oval brought his tally to 203 wickets in 42 Tests. He has now taken 68 Test wickets in 1998 - next is Allan Donald of South Africa who has 66 - and has taken five wickets in an innings at least once against seven of the eight other Test teams - Australia being the only exception.