South Africa 361 Sri Lanka: Muralitharan rules day with 650th Test scalp

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The Independent Online

Muttiah Muralitharan claimed his 55th five-wicket haul in test cricket as Sri Lanka dismissed South Africa for 361 on day one of the second test.

Muralitharan bowled 33.5 overs Friday, capturing five for 128 after the seamers had set up the game for Sri Lanka with early breakthroughs.

When the veteran offspinner claimed his fifth wicket with the penultimate ball of the day he also became only the second bowler in the world to complete 650 test wickets after Australia's Shane Warne.

"It was a great effort to bowl out South Africa after losing the toss," Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody said.

South Africa's captain Ashwell Prince and A.B. de Villiers made gritty half-centuries as the tourists rallied after a disappointing start.

Prince's decision to bat first backfired when South Africa's openers were dismissed without scoring and the tourists soon slumped to 70 for four. De Villiers then joined his captain 25 minutes before lunch.

De Villiers (95) mixed aggression with caution putting South Africa back in the game. And together with Prince added 161 runs, a new record for the fifth wicket in tests between these countries.

That surpassed the previous mark of 121 between Sri Lankan greats Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva in 1993.

Prince and de Villiers saw off the tricky half hour period before lunch and took up an aggressive approach in the afternoon session, maintaining a healthy run rate.

De Villiers reached his 10th test half century from 57 balls, including 10 boundaries, while Prince took 86 balls to complete his third test 50.

Prince was dismissed in the second ball after the tea interval and de Villiers was unfortunate to be given out just five runs short of a well deserved fourth test hundred.

He was adjudged caught behind off the bowling of Malinga but television replays showed that the bat had only hit the ground and did not appear to make contact with the ball. This was the third time de Villiers had been dismissed in 90s in 22 tests.

Prince said 361 was a "competitive score" under the circumstances.

"I am happy with the way we played Murali. It's important to not to get bogged down against him," he said. "You got to come out and put pressure on him."

With wickets falling at regular intervals toward the end, Shaun Pollock went after the bowling and completed his 15th test 50 in only 53 balls, hitting four boundaries and a six.

The late flurry helped South Africa's confidence, said Prince.

"The important thing for us now is to take wickets with the new ball," he said. "Sri Lanka will be batting last on that wicket and it's important for us to not to give away a big lead."

In the morning it was Chaminda Vaas who started South Africa's slide with a wicket off the second ball and then Malinga struck twice by removing Andrew Hall (0), caught at second slip, and bowling Jacques Rudolph through the gate for 13.

Malinga was denied a third wicket in the morning when wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene put a simple chance down with Hashim Amla on 13.

Amla reached 40 in 47 balls before he was trapped in front playing on the back foot to Muralitharan.

Sri Lanka won the first test last week by an innings and 153 runs after bowling the South Africans out for 169 on the opening day at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

The Sri Lankans replied with 756 for five declared, including a world record 624-run partnership between Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, to set the foundation for a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

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