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Monday, July 28, 2008

Sri Lanka thrash India in first Test

A spineless India slumped to their third heaviest Test defeat as Sri Lanka clinched the first Test by an innings and 239 runs with the spin combination of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis plotting the visitors' downfall in Colombo on Saturday.
After enforcing the follow-on, Muralitharan (6 for 26) and Mendis (4 for 60) tore through the Indian batting order to bundle out the visitors for a paltry 138 to record Sri Lanka's biggest victory at home with a day to spare, which also gave them a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
It was an abject surrender by the tourists who were dismissed for 223 in the first innings and then capitulated in an even more shocking manner in the second essay.

Only opener Gautam Gambhir (43) provided a semblance of resistance but none of the other batsmen could counter Muralitharan and Mendis who mesmerised the opposition with their guile and variety at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground.
Although the SSC track had not deteriorated too much, the Indians showed a complete lack of application with their second innings lasting barely 45 overs.

The two teams will now travel to Galle for the second Test which gets underway from July 31.
The experienced Indian batting line-up seemed to have no clue to the spinners as Virender Sehwag (13), V V S Laxman (21), Sachin Tendulkar (12), Rahul Dravid (10) and Sourav Ganguly (4) perished in quick succession to shatter any hopes of a fightback.

The ICC's experimental rule of allowing teams to review umpire's decision also came handy for the home team as Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dravid, who were initially given not out by the field-umpire, were adjudged out after viewing television replays.
Resuming their first innings at 159 for six, India required an extraordinary display of batting from skipper Anil Kumble and Laxman to avoid the follow on.
However, nothing worked as Muralitharan (5/84 )and Mendis (4/72) continued toying with the Indian batting and wrapped up the innings in the first session itself.
Laxman fought well for his 56 runs before becoming the fourth victim of mystery spinner Mendis.

Before being bowled by Mendis, Laxman and Ishant Sharma (13)did their best to delay the inevitable with a dogged 35-run partnership for the last wicket.
After enforcing the follow on, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene opted to deploy a spin and pace combination to unsettle the jittery Indian batsmen though Gambhir and Tendulkar tried to hold their nerves.
Laxman too begun on a confident note and hammered three boundaries in his brief stay of 21.
The reintroduction of Mendis spelt disaster for India, and he broke the 28-run partnership between Gambhir and Laxman.

The southpaw combined with former captain Rahul Dravid and the duo scampered for ones and twos while trying to negotiate Muralitharan and Mendis.
The dismissal of Gambhir spelt India's doom when he was brilliantly stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene of Murali after a solid knock of 43.
Dravid was the last to go before tea caught by Warnapura of Mendis for 10. The right-hander was adjudged not out by the field umpires but the Lankans sought a referral and the third umpire ruled the Indian veteran out.

Earlier, Ganguly was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan off Muralitharan for 4.
Tendulkar edged a Muttiah Muralitharan delivery down the leg side but the on-field umpire ruled in favour of the batsmen. The hosts then referred the decision to the third umpire, who declared the Indian out cutting short his innings at 12.
This was India's third heaviest Test defeat. Earlier, West Indies beat India by an innings and 336 runs at Kolkata in 1958, while England thumped them by an innings and 285 runs at Lord's in 1974.

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