Sri Lanka gift grand farewell to Muralitharan
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter
DateLine: 22nd July 2010
Lasith Malinga was the chief architect of the Lankan win as they trounced India in the first Test of the series. It was a perfect farewell gift from the Lankan side to the most dedicated servant of the Lankan cricket as the curtains finally fell on the illustrious career of Muralitharan.
For a moment or so it seemed that Muralitharan might end his career the Bradman way as he might be stuck on 799. There was a close stumping chance of Dilshan as Ishant Sharma lost his balance. But if there was a poetic justice or so Muralitharan finally claimed his 800th Test wicket of the last ball of his career.
Moreover credit must be given to the Lankan side as they were able to win a match that was severely affected by the weather. The first day was truncated affair while the second day was washed out thus leaving serious doubt as to whether a result would be possible. But the Lankans were determined to give their champion spinner a fitting farewell for the yeoman services he rendered to the side.
Resuming the day at 181 for 5 all hopes rested on the shoulders of VVS Laxman and Dhoni but the pair could not do much. Dhoni got off the mark with a well-timed flick through mid-wicket but a pin-point yorker from Malinga squeezed under the bat of Dhoni and disturbed his leg-stump. Harbhajan Singh once again failed with the bat as he became Murali's 799th Test wicket. Mithun showed his competence with the bat as he added 49 runs with Laxman as the pair ensured that that the Lankans would bat again. But Mithun who batted impressively against Murali had no answer to Malinga's another well-directed yorker as the Indians stumbled to 246 for 8.
Laxman found an unlikely companion in Ishant Sharma and the duo resisted for 18.4 overs. The pair added 67 runs for the ninth wicket as the lead stretched and just when the visitors began to harbour some faint hope disaster struck. Some callous running between the wickets by Laxman cost the elegant right-hander his wicket as the Indians found themselves at 314 for 9. Muralitharan had to wait for 15.2 overs for his 800th wicket as Ishant Sharma and Ojha resisted stubbornly. Finally Murali found the outside edge of Ojha's bat as Jayawardene at slip took a low catch to gift Murali a sweet parting gift.
Chasing a meager target of 95 to take lead in the series Dilshan was off like a runaway train. He targeted the uninspired Indian bowlers with some aggressive strokeplay. Paranavitana was slow to get off the blocks but once he was able to gauge the Indian bowlers he too joined the fun. Dilshan soon closed out the match with a huge six.