Friday, August 21, 2009

Dilshan helps Sri Lankan lead race past 200

Team-mates crowd around Muttiah Muralitharan after he dismissed Iain O'Brien, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day, August 21, 2009
Muttiah Muralitharan took 4 for 73, and his 100th wicket in Galle, as New Zealand were bowled out for 299 on the fourth day © Associated Press

Muttiah Muralitharan created another slice of history, taking his 100th wicket at Galle, as Sri Lanka wrested a 153-run first-innings lead on another grey morning in Galle. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara then thrashed the bowling to pick up 76 from just 15 overs, after Tharanga Paranavitana had fallen cheaply to Iain O'Brien.

Murali had Iain O'Brien caught behind before Thilan Thushara came back to take his fourth wicket of the innings, bowling Daniel Vettori off the inside edge as New Zealand were bowled out for 299. Vettori's had been a desperate shot, but with the hapless Chris Martin at the other end, he really had no option but to go for the single off the last ball of the over.

It was desperation of another kind when Dilshan, who had clattered 92 from 72 balls in the first innings, arrived at the crease. Once again, New Zealand had no answer to his aggression, and O'Brien appeared stunned when he was hooked for six and then flayed for four through cover at the start of the innings.

Paranavitana went, edging to slip, but with Sangakkara caressing gorgeous strokes through the covers, Dilshan was once again given license to flirt with the boundaries of Test-match batting. Both O'Brien and Martin suffered as the ball was cut, square-driven and pulled ruthlessly each time it was even fractionally off length. It didn't even look like he was batting on the same pitch, and by lunch, another blistering-quick half-century was on the cards.

New Zealand's already hopeless-looking cause was scarcely helped by a stomach bug that ruled Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder out of action. With Tim McIntosh also feeling under the weather, permission had to be sought from the Sri Lankans so that Reece Young, the reserve wicketkeeper, could take McCullum's place behind the stumps. With others, including Martin, also feeling under the weather, it remained to be seen if New Zealand could complete the game with all men standing.

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