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January 30, 2008
Best Test Batting Performance
Sangakkara refused singles off the first few balls of overs, and then when the field came in, reverted to one-day mode with some clean strikes over the off side. There were a few streaky shots too - thick edges flew to vacant spaces and not everything came off the middle - but it was a courageous fightback from a Sri Lanka outfit that desperately needed some spark.
It is hard to predict how close Sri Lanka would have come to the record score they needed to win had Sangakkara stayed at the crease, but the way he was playing he just might have got them home. He could have given up once Lee and Mitchell Johnson sparked the early crashes, but instead he simply altered his game plan and formed a 74-run stand with Lasith Malinga.
Sadly for the visitors Sangakkara was denied his third double-century for 2007 when he tried to hook Stuart Clark and the ball flew off his shoulder to Ricky Ponting at slip. Rudi Koertzen agreed with the Australians that there was some bat involved, but Sangakkara, and the replays, knew that was not the case. It was a disappointing finish to a superb display.
In the end Sangakkara's assault did not affect the outcome of the game, but it let him register the highest score by a Sri Lankan in a Test in Australia, beating Aravanda de Silva's 167 in 1989-90, and the highest score in a Test at the Bellerive Oval, passing Michael Slater's 168 in 1993-94. It also took Sangakkara to 677 runs for the 2007 calendar year, at a phenomenal average of 225.66. And he wasn't finished there: 291 runs at 72.72 in two Tests against England followed.
Best Test Bowling Performance
Trailing by 283 on first innings, England needed plenty of runs in the second to save the game, but Zaheer ensured they wouldn't get them. He found his match-winning touch, swinging the ball either way, from both over and round the wicket, troubling both right-handers and left, and making them hop with his sharp angle, back of a length. He exploited Alastair Cook's weakness against the ball that jags back, tempted Andrew Strauss into flashing loosely, and hustled Michael Vaughan from round the wicket.
The freakish dismissal of Vaughan, who dragged one from his pads onto the stumps, opened the floodgates. Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell were then prised out with incisive swingers. Zaheer finished with his best match figures, a fitting reward for one of the better spells in recent memory.
For the first time in a series, he was the bowler India had expected him to be since 2000, when he bowled Steve Waugh with a scorching yorker in the Champions Trophy. His show-stopping exhibition of swing bowling was reminiscent of Wasim Akram and he was fittingly named Man of the Series, which India won 1-0, their first series win in England for 21 years.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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