Muralitharan equals Warne’s Test record

Kandy, December 2:

Muttiah Muralitharan equalled Shane Warne’s world record tally of 708 wickets as Sri Lanka sent England crashing in the first Test here on Sunday.

The off-spinner grabbed 4-30 as England, replying to Sri Lanka’s modest 188, slumped to 186-6 by tea before heavy rain washed out the rest of the day’s play. Muralitharan looked unplayable on the uneven pitch as the batsmen groped to negotiate the alarming turn and bounce he extracted from the surface. Paul Collingwood, unbeaten on 14, was England’s last remaining hope to gain a substantial lead on a wicket where 16 wickets have already fallen on the first two days. Ryan Sidebottom was not out on one.

Muralitharan, who went into the match needing five wickets to overtake Warne, had debutant

Ravi Bopara caught behind by wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene in the post-lunch session to claim his 708th victim. Sri Lanka’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss said the team was disappointed the record did not come Muralitharan’s way on Sunday, but he was delighted the hosts had fought back strongly in the Test.

The overnight pair of Ian Bell (83) and captain Michael Vaughan put on 107 for the second wicket after opener Alastair Cook had been removed third ball in Saturday’s final session. The partnership, which threatened to take the game away from Sri Lanka, was cut short by a controversial decision by Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar against the England captain just before lunch.

Vaughan, looking solid on 37, was given out caught at silly-point off Muralitharan even as TV replays showed the ball may have bounced off his pad to the fielder. A shocked Vaughan stood aghast at his crease as Dar raised his finger, before trudging back to pavilion.