The Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan took eight wickets for 87 runs on the first day of the third and decisive Test in Colombo as India struggled to a total of 234 all out. The hosts played out six overs of their reply with their captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, and Marvan Atapattu taking the Sri Lankan innings to 13 without loss.
Having won the toss India elected to bat on a good wicket and the opening pair put on 97 before Shiv Sunder Das, attempting to hit over midwicket, was bowled for 59 by Muralitharan.
This brought the Indian vice-captain, Rahul Dravid, to the crease and he looked to be continuing the tourists' hold over the Sri Lankan bowling attack in partnership with Sadaggopan Ramesh. The pair moved the total on to 115 before Muralitharan enticed Ramesh to edge an off-break to Hashan Tillakaratne. Two overs later Muralitharan claimed his third scalp, Sourav Ganguly out lbw for one as he attempted to pad the ball away after advancing down the wicket.
The fast bowler Chaminda Vaas momentarily broke Muralitharan's monopoly on the scorecard in the 56th over, claiming his 149th Test wicket when Mohammed Kaif was caught behind having scored 14.
But the Lancashire bowler was soon back on the wicket trail, forcing Dravid to flick the ball to Tillakaratne for 36 as India were pegged back to 192 for five. Hemang Badani briefly put up a fight for India, scoring a brave 38 but he too fell to the devastating spin variation of Muralitharan.
Vaas celebrated capturing his 150th Test victim in the 74th over, claiming the scalp of Harbhajan Singh as he and Muralitharan easily knocked over the Indian tail. The last six wickets fell for just 42 runs.