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Murali, Mendis wrap up India in a hurry

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The deadly spin combination of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis was too difficult to handle for the famed Indian batting order for the second time in two days. The spin wizards took a combined 14 wickets as India got bowled out twice in the same day! The Test match got wrapped up with more than an hour to go for the end of the fourth day. India sunk to an embarrassing innings and 239-run defeat. Muralitharan was the Man of the Match as he finished with 11 wickets while getting complemented by debutant Ajantha Mendis, who got 8 wickets in the match!

The fourth day started with India already in a huge mess at 159 for 6. With the review system in place, there was escape whatsoever for a batsman to escape any tiny bat pads. India were bowled out with the addition of just another 64 runs just inside lunch. VVS Laxman was quite helpless watching his partners getting sent back to the pavilion in a hurry. He was the last man to fall after getting foxed by a googly from Ajantha Mendis that spun past his bat pad gap to hit timber. Laxman had got 56 (from 118 balls with 6 fours) and had slightly delayed the inevitable through an impressive 18-over partnership with no. 11 Ishant Sharma, who had survived 54 balls. Mendis had taken three of the four remaining wickets that India had in their second innings to finish with 27.5-5-72-4. Murali got his 65th five wicket haul with ease. The Indians were obviously asked to follow on as the Sri Lankan bowlers were not too tired having bowled just under 73 overs.

Sehwag’s jinx with second innings continued as he fell cheaply, however through a controversial lbw decision. A review was asked by the Sri Lankan team after Mark Benson gave Sehwag not out when he padded up to a delivery that just managed to pitch on the leg stump line. It was a straighter one from Murali from round the sticks which would have had very less chances of hitting the legstump. But the decision that followed the review was no way a sensible one at all with the ball-tracking device recording only the second impact of the ball with the back pad. The ball was seen to be heading towards the middle stump according to the Virtual Eye, but in reality that was only after a deviation from the front pad to the back pad! Sehwag was eventually given out lbw and India went to lunch at 25 for 1 in 6.4 overs.

VVS Laxman, got a promotion at no.3 in the follow on innings as expected. The right hander played some lovely drives as the scoreboard kept moving with an equally aggressive Gambhir at the other end. But there was bound to be the wicket taking deliveries almost each over once Ajantha Mendis got introduced in the 10th over itself. And he struck gold with a two-finger googly that forced Laxman to shift his weight from the frontfoot to the backfoot. That delivery from Ajantha skidded through and struck VVS dead in front of the stumps on the pad! India got reduced to 53 for 2 with Laxman getting 21 (from 26 balls with 3 fours). Wickets kept on tumbling once Mendis and Murali bowled in tandem. Tendulkar (12 from 30 with a four) fell next as he got hit on his glove and the back of the bat in an attempted sweep to be caught at leg slip. Murali for the second time got rid of Tendulkar with a doosra. Sachin, who wasn’t convinced about getting a bat to that had asked for a review which got negated. Within minutes, Murali bowled a teasing off break which dragged Gambhir (43 from 90 balls with 4 fours) out of his crease in his unsuccessful cover drive leaving a quick stumping for Prasanna Jayawardene.

The match was as good as over with India having just Dravid and Ganguly. And both fell in the space of two balls to make it a disastrous 103 for 6. First, it was Ganguly (4 from 12 balls) not able to stop himself from edging a sharp off break from Murali and then Dravid (10 from 30 balls) caught bat pad off Mendis. The final rites to the match were completed after the Tea Break with hardly any resistance coming Sri Lanka’s way. Murali recored another 5-wicket haul to finish with 11 for 110! This innings, he had dream figures of 13-3-26-6 and Mendis had a match haul of 8 for 132. India were bowled out in just 45 overs for a paltry 138 runs to register their third worst defeat. With this huge win, Sri Lanka can easily sustain the momentum in the remaining two Tests as well with the second Test at Galle starting in just another 5 days.

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