Muttiah Muralitharan took eight wickets to annihilate West Indies in the second Test at his hometown of Kandy. Set an imposing 378 to win, West Indies were not expected to pull off any miracles, but the manner in which they were decimated by Muralitharan that left them shellshocked, and rendered the capacity crowd at the Asgiriya Stadium delirious with joy. In the end, West Indies were shot out for 137, with Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath claiming the other two wickets, as Sri Lanka won with more than four sessions to spare.
Even a turning pitch and an inexperienced West Indian batting line-up could not detract from a monstrous bowling performance by Muralitharan, who swept away batsmen in a manner reminiscent of one swatting pesky flies. If the offbreak was dangerous, the doosra was unplayable, accounting for most of his victims. The batsmen were left clutching at air, in a maelstrom of offspin bowling that sucked them in, whirled them around and then spat them out. This was not a contest. This was a case of schoolchildren being taught a lesson they would remember for a long, long time.
For the record, Sri Lanka won the Test match by 240 runs and the series by a 2-0 margin. But neither scoreline could adequately describe the outright humiliation that the players and spectators witnessed on the fourth afternoon at Kandy. The threat of rain was looming all the time, and Sri Lanka missed the talismanic Chaminda Vaas. No matter. With Muralitharan being in the form he was in, West Indies could have fancied their chances of saving the game only up till the point that he came on to bowl.
If Muralitharan had looked competitive in the first innings, in the second he was positively devastating. Runako Morton, Ryan Ramdass and Sylvester Joseph were left flummoxed by vicious doosras, the last two off consecutive deliveries, and Narsingh Deonarine, the only batsman to pose any kind of resistance, was forced back on to his stumps and bowled. Omari Banks followed an offbreak down the leg side into the hands of the keeper Kumar Sangakkara, and Daren Powell gave Mahela Jayawardene his fourth catch of the innings at silly mid-off. Denesh Ramdin's promising knock ended with yet another doosra - he was drawn out of his crease and bowled. Tino Best was undone by a ripping offbreak. In the middle of the carnage, Herath snapped up Chanderpaul to to capture the only Test-class batting talent that West Indies possessed. Malinga picked up the wicket of Xavier Marshall, but these were just side-shows in the Muralitharan extravaganza.
Sri Lanka had their eyes on a series whitewash long before Marvan Atapattu called his players in with the Sri Lankan score on 375 for 7. Play commenced late after rain delayed the start of the fourth day's morning session. Sangakkara continued from where he had left off, moving effortlessly to 157 not out from his overnight 135, a performance that got him the Man-of-the-Match award. Atapattu chose to delay his declaration, possibly influenced by Vaas's injury, and Muralitharan's recent attack of the flu. Sangakkara and Herath used the opportunity to share a 54-run stand to put the target well beyond the reach of West Indies. But with Muralitharan bowling the way he did, they really needn't have bothered.
West Indies second innings
Xavier Marshall lbw b Malinga 1 (2 for 1)
Shuffled across to a yorker that swung late
Runako Morton lbw b Muralitharan 9 (38 for 2)
Played back for the offbreak and missed the doosra
Ryan Ramdass c Jayawardene b Muralitharan (49 for 3)
Pushed forward expecting the offspinner as the doosra caught the glove
Sylvester Joseph c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 4 (49 for 4)
Attempted to play defensively, and was flummoxed by the doosra
Shivnarine Chanderpaul c Jayawardene b Herath 24 (77 for 5)
Popped the turning delivery in to the hands of silly-point
Narsingh Deonarine b Muralitharan 29 (105 for 6)
Tried to cut a ball that spun and bowled him
Omari Banks c Sangakkara b Muralitharan 1 (111 for 7)
Guided one going down leg side into the hands of the keeper
Daren Powell c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 0 (119 for 8)
Lunged forward to a ball that was turning away, and was caught at silly point
Denesh Ramdin b Muralitharan 28 (131 of 9)
Drawn out by the doosra and then bowled
Tino Best b Muralitharan 8 (137 all out)
Beaten while aiming a heave at a big offbreak