West Indies humbled by mesmerising magic of Muralitharan

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The Independent Online

Just as Shane Warne, Australia's compelling leg-spinner who is the game's leading wicket-taker, perplexed England's batsmen in his team's emphatic win in the opening Ashes Test, so did Muttiah Muralitharan, who stands second to Warne on the all-time list, hurry the West Indies to defeat by 240 runs in the second and final Test.

He finished with 8 for 46 from 16.2 consecutive overs as the West Indies folded for 137 before tea.

Warne, who had to share the spotlight with Glenn McGrath, claimed only six wickets in Australia's triumph, a trifling reward for his masterclass.

Muralitharan had the stage all to himself in Kandy where he grew up and perfected his art. It was the 46th time he had accounted for five or more wickets in an innings, carrying his Test haul to 549, still 40 short of Warne, who is three years his senior and has played 124 matches against his 93.

In his second Test since returning after a shoulder operation last year, Muralitharan's dismissals were in familiar style. Four were to catches close to the bat, three bowled and one lbw. But the prime wicket of the West Indies captain. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, went to the left-arm spinner Nayan Herath, when he was caught at silly point for 24.

As Kumar Sangakkara carried his overnight 137 to 157 before the declaration, the West Indies fast bowler Tino Best was banned from bowling by umpire Tony Hill after delivering his second beamer of the innings.

West Indies won toss; fourth day

SRI LANKA - First Innings 150 (Powell 5-25)

WEST INDIES - First Innings 148 (Vaas 6-22)

SRI LANKA - Second Innings (Overnight: 340 for 7)

Total (for 7, dec 107 overs) 375

WEST INDIES - Second Innings

Total (41.2 overs) 137


Umpires: A L Hill (NZ) and S J A Taufel (Aus).