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Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Kandy, 3rd day
Record-breaker Murali holds the aces
December 3, 2007
A fighting batting display by England, but Sri Lanka hold the aces and Murali could make all the difference
 
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Andrew Miller: The day belonged entirely to Sri Lanka and to Muttiah Muralitharan, who has reclaimed the world Test record. David, amazing scenes this morning

David Lloyd: Absolutely terrific, everybody was waiting for it. The script was written that Murali will open the bowling this morning, very quickly take his wicket but it was a long time coming. Interesting reading Kumar Sangakkara in the local paper that he [Murali] is really fretting Murali. He was very nervous, he has not been sleeping. He bowled beautifully again this morning, it took a long time coming and when it did come the place erupted. It was one of those I was there moments. Terrific to be part of this, witnessing it, the ground had about 9000 people in and it really was a joyous moment.

AM: England made Murali work particularly hard for his wickets, and Ryan Sidebottom, an unlikely man to be the source of resistance. He and Paul Collingwood added 57 for the seventh wicket. And, for a while it looked like plain sailing for England.

DL: I for one had to eat my own words, all along, and I wasn't the only one, I was saying that England have got No. 8,9, 10 and 11 who are all No. 11. Sidebottom played really well, he scored 31, and it was a very, very good partnership. Sensible play from Collingwood which got them up to a lead of 93, which was more than handy, that looked totally unlikely in the game earlier but 93 was a more than useful lead on that pitch and in these conditions. I think England were absolutely delighted with the way they played this morning.

AM: In the end, the record wicket was Paul Collingwood and it was a very apt dismissal as well, bowled him straight through, beaten all ends up.

DL: It was a beauty, and it looked as if he done him in with a doosra. And then you check it and you see that it is a offspinner, nothing more than that. Then you ask the bowler, the great man Murali, what sort of delivery was it? And he said that it was an offspinner that did not spin. Well it is going to do anybody, and Collingwood played all around it, he did. He actually played all around it, and when you look at it, it is a perfect dismissal - it hit the top of middle and off. The scenes were brilliant and it is very fitting that it is in his hometown as well.

AM: England managed to secure a lead of 93, and they would have taken that overnight, wouldn't they?

DL: Definitely, they showed a great resolution in their innings to get through to that lead. I just wonder whether the pitch was dying a little, we had that overnight rain, we had the plastic covers on, but the pitch didn't really misbehave. Murali, of course, finished with six wickets, but he had to work for his wickets, he bowled a lot of overs.

Something to reflect on - England were unable to get after him, they were unable to score runs against him. But England at that stage in the game would have been delighted with their position.

AM: Unfortunately for England, another man came to the party - Sanath Jayasuriya produced his best innings for about 3 or 4 years, including one particular over against James Anderson.

DL: Yes, and there was a nick in there that just went past Ian Bell, over his head. He is quite diminutive and it was a slip catch. Six boundaries for Jayasuriya and he announced himself in the innings, and all this strong rumour that Jayasuriya will retire at the end of this Test match - it's in the papers and the selectors have given him a chance to play his last innings, or his last Test match and then retire. He may have second thoughts if that it is true, and he is a dangerous player and as you say he has had a lean period in his last 20 innings, this was only his second fifty. But it is a timely fifty, because it set Sri Lanka on the road to recovery, they quickly got rid of that deficit and Sri Lanka were moving the game forward.

AM: There was an interesting moment just as he left the pitch, the incoming batsman Kumar Sangakkara gave him a tap on the shoulder and half a hug - do we read anything into that?

DL: I was looking at that too, and I saw the affection shown by Sangakkara, and then I was looking closely to see if he going to a salute all the way around the ground. He did not do that, he just raised his bat and went in. Even into the dressing room - you have got the intrusion of the camera in the dressing room - there was nothing. So, I would say from that that he may carry on playing. After that innings, Sri Lanka need him in this series. If you want to retire, then retire at the end of the series, this is not a long series. It's in Sri Lanka, there is another game in Colombo, one down in Galle, just enjoy yourself because if he plays like the way he does play, then they will miss him. England are very aware of it, they are very wary of him, and also when it comes to the other games and indeed this game, his bowling could be very useful.

AM: It certainly will be as Sri Lanka are pushing their way towards a handy lead, what do you expect them to be able to rack up in this second innings?

DL: My view is that they need a lead of 180. I think if they get 180, then it would be too much for England. They will target 250, always like that comfort. Murali, I saw this morning - he has taken six, and I am probably wrong - I had said that he would take fifteen in this match. I will temper that, I think he is going to be a real threat, no doubt about that, I have got him down for 12 wickets in this game.

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Posted by aloo_ball on (December 3, 2007, 15:58 GMT)

Tight contest so far and the fate of this match will surely be decided by the man himself. But firstly,some excellent batting is necessary to put up a good score for them to bowl at. So Sangakkara and Mahela must perform. Murali will do the rest,in a crumbling wicket that will make balls spin and bounce even more.

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