Muralitharan rocks as Lankans crush Proteas

Colombo, July 31 :

Muttiah Muralitharan took four wickets on Monday as Sri Lanka completed a crushing innings and 153-run win over South Africa in the first Test.

Resuming the last day at 311 for four, South Africa was dismissed for 434 in the middle session. Muralitharan had a match haul of 10-172, including four wickets in the first innings when South Africa was bowled out for 169.

Sri Lanka replied with a massive 756/5 declared — including a world record 624-run partnership between skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara — for a 587-run first-innings lead.

Jayawardene was voted the man of the match for his 374 in the first innings, the fourth highest individual score in Test cricket behind Brian Lara’s 400.

Muralitharan took 4-41 in the first innings and 6-131 in the second for his 17th 10-wicket haul in a Test match. Paceman Dilhara Fernando chimed in with 4-48 in the first innings and two more wickets in the second.

Current Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya and retired batsman Roshan Mahanama, who set the previous world record for the highest partnership of 576 against India in 1997, gave tribute to Jayawardene and Sangakkara for their record-breaking partnership.

South Africa struggled in the wake of that stand. Needing to bat for more than four sessions to stay in the match, the South Africans batted gamely late Sunday with openers Jacques Rudolph (90) and Andrew Hall (64) sharing 165 runs for the first wicket.

But Muralitharan and Fernando took two wickets apiece before stumps and Muralitharan struck again in the second over on Monday morning. He had Ashwell Prince caught at slip by Jayawardene for 61, ending a threatening 78-run partnership with Mark Boucher for the fifth wicket. Prince made his score off 182 balls hitting four fours. Herschelle Gibbs came to bat at No 7 and made 18 before hitting a loose full-toss from Muralitharan for a sharp return catch.

South Africa was 392 for six at lunch, still needed 195 runs to avoid an innings defeat and with Boucher and Nicky Boje trying to halt the slide. The seventh-wicket pair compiled 51 runs before Boucher was caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Jayasuriya for 85 shortly after lunch.

Boucher faced 160 balls and hit 10 boundaries and had a reprieve at 67, when wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene dropped a legside catch off Muralitharan. The second match of the two-Test series starts on Friday.