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August 22, 2009
Sri Lanka 452 (Samaraweera 159, M Jayawardene 114, Martin 4-77) and 259 for 5 dec. (Dilshan 123) beat New Zealand 299 (McIntosh 69, Murali 4-73, Thushara 4-81) and 210 (Vettori 67, Murali 3-88) by 202 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
With the rain clouds staying away and the Galle sky clear, Sri Lanka romped to victory in the first Test, finishing off proceedings mid-afternoon. The New Zealand tail offered far more resistance than the top order - Daniel Vettori led the way with a brave 67 - but with the spinners coming into their own after early breakthroughs from Thilan Thushara, Sri Lanka eased to a 202-run win. Fittingly Muttiah Muralitharan, who had taken his 100th wicket in Galle earlier in the match, had the final say, running out Brendon McCullum with a superb throw from mid-off to finish off proceedings.
Any realistic hopes that New Zealand had of survival had disappeared soon after lunch, when Jesse Ryder edged Murali behind. McCullum and Vettori staved off the inevitable for a while, and there was polite applause for Vettori when he reached his half-century. Two neat pulls for four off Thushara followed, but by then both Murali and Ajantha Mendis were turning the ball at wicked angles.
And it was Mendis who delivered, coming round the wicket and turning one sharply away to take the edge of Vettori's bat. Once again Prasanna Jayawardene's glovework was smooth, and as Vettori walked back, it was only a matter of when Sri Lanka would wrap things up. McCullum swung Murali for a six, and then swept him for four to rage against dying light, and there were a couple of lovely drives too from Jeetan Patel. But after Mendis had seen him dropped by Malinda Warnapura, substituting for Angelo Mathews, at short leg, Murali struck, with the doosra luring him forward and Prasanna doing the rest.
Iain O'Brien went caught at silly point off the inside edge, and McCullum then made the mistake of taking on Murali's throwing arm to end the contest. The damage, though, had been done much earlier, as Sri Lanka started the morning with some exceptionally tidy overs. The pressure eventually told once Thushara switched the angle of attack to round the wicket. Martin Guptill was clueless against one that came in with the arm and then darted away to clip the top of off stump. Soon after, Tim McIntosh, perhaps still suffering the after-effects of illness, was squared up, and Thilan Samaraweera took a fine low catch at third slip. McIntosh waited for the third umpire's decision, but had to walk off eventually.
An even heftier blow came soon after. Kumar Sangakkara threw the ball to his predecessor as captain, and when Mahela Jayawardene got Ross Taylor to tickle on into Prasanna's hands down the leg side, the Lankan celebrations were raucous. Up in the dressing room, Trevor Bayliss, the coach, held his head in his hands in disbelief.
With the fields more attacking, both Vettori and Jacob Oram had the opportunity to play some strokes. Vettori played a couple of lovely drives, and the sweep and pull were also employed by both as the scoreboard ticked along. But just when it seemed that they might get to lunch without further damage, Oram tried to sweep a straighter one from Mendis, and missed.
Both Vettori and Ryder saw edges off Murali evade wicketkeeper and slip and go for four, but there was to be no great escape for New Zealand. Sri Lanka, whose home form is the envy of so many, chipped away relentlessly and with Thushara adding a cutting edge to the wiles of Murali and Mendis, victory was as inevitable as it was emphatic.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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