Muralitharan edges closer to magical 800-wicket tally

Sri Lanka 520-8dec India 276 & 181-5
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The Independent Online

Muttiah Muralitharan was left needing two more wickets to reach a Test landmark of 800 as India reached 181 for 5 in their second innings at the end of day four of the first Test yesterday.

Muralitharan, playing in his final Test match, claimed six wickets as India, resuming on 140 for 3, were bowled out for 276 and forced to follow on. At stumps India still trailed by 63 runs, following Sri Lanka's first innings 520 for 8 declared.

Muralitharan claimed 5 for 63 from 17 overs in India's first innings and took 1 for 57 when they followed on, taking the wicket of Yuvraj Singh.

India's second innings was rocked by the loss of openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag before tea but Sachin Tendulkar (84) and Rahul Dravid (44) mounted a recovery.

Tendulkar chalked up his 55th Test fifty and launched Muralitharan for a huge six, while Dravid offered a solid anchor at the other end. Dravid's patience might well have deserved a fifty, but his and Tendulkar's 119-run stand came to an end when he was caught at leg gully attempting to flick Lasith Malinga. And just 11 deliveries later, Malinga struck again, this time with the prized scalp of Tendulkar, trapped lbw by a yorker just 15 short of his 48th Test century.

Yuvraj became Muralitharan's fifth victim of the day, caught at slip, leaving India with a mountain to climb.

Malinga dealt India an early second-innings blow, as Gambhir edged a simple catch to the wicketkeeper without scoring in only the third delivery of the innings. Sehwag looked well set again – alongside Dravid – steering India to 42, but the opener was brilliantly caught at backward point by Mahela Jayawardene off Chanaka Welegedara.

Tendulkar and Dravid played a patient game thereafter to give the visitors some respite going into the tea break, in a day dominated by the home side.

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