Sri Lanka v India

Third Test

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sri Lanka took the series by equalling their biggest winning margin in Tests, against Zimbabwe nearly five years before. They had abandoned their four-seamer strategy, dropping the two Pereras to strengthen the batting with all-rounders Liyanage, recalled for his first Test for seven years. and Thilan Samaraweera, who was making his debut on his club ground. The policy paid off splendidly. After Muralitharan had claimed eight wickets, a phenomenal achievement by any spinner on a first-day pitch. Sr] Lanka batted India out of the game. Four batsmen scored hundreds in one awesome innings an unprecedented feat for Sri Lanka as they ran up 610 for six. their second highest total in Test cricket.

Net until the fourth over of the first afternoon, it was India who seemed on course for a large total. Ganguly had not hesitated to bat on a pitch full of runs, and Das and Ramesh opened with 97. By the evening, the entire Indian line-up was back in the pavilion for 234, spun out by an exotic bag of tricks from Muralitharan, who exploited slight bounce in the wicket to return eight for 87 in a single spell of 34.1 overs. It was his second-best Test analysis, after nine for 65 against England in 1998. and the best by a Sri Lankan at home. The two wickets that eluded him went to Vaas. who in his 51st match became only the second bowler after Murali to take 150 Test wickets for Sri Lanka.

On the second day, the home batsmen began their feast, fed by the Indians' failure to bowl a consistent line on one side of the wicket. Atapattu provided the hors d'oeuvre. striking I I fours in his 108: Jayawardene joined him in a 133-run third-wicket partnership, and next day proceeded to 139. which included one sin, a five and 14 fours. But the stand that finally knocked India our was from Tillekeratne and Samaraweera. After three failures.

Tillekeratne finally came good; like Atapattu and Jayawardene, he registered his seventh Test century, and adsanced to a Test-best 136 not out, with 16 fours. Samaraweera became only the third Sri Lankan to make a hundred on Test debut. Though needing a runner in the later stages bccause of cramp, he reached an undefeated 103 off 175 balls with his tenth four, whereupon Jayasuriya immediately called them in. They had added an unbroken 194 in 201 minutes, Sri Lanka's best for the seventh wicket against any country. beating 144 by Ararinda de Silva and Ravi Ratnayeke against Australia in 1989-90.

With more than two days to go. India faced a massive deficit of 376. Once again the openers started well, this time completing their century partnership; once again Muralitharan removed them both. He had Das caught at silly point just before lunch on the fourth day, and an hour later he bowled Ramesh with a ball that pitched outside the left-hander's leg stump and whipped across him to clip the off bail - a lethal delivery to rank with Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne's "Ball of the Century" that bowled Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993.

Dravid and Ganguly thwarted the home attack by taking India to a promising 186 for two that evening. Then two brilliant run-outs swung the scales back in Sri Lanka's favour. Dravid, who had completed 4,000 runs in his 48th Test and looked well set. was beaten by Atapattu's direct throw front mid-on; ten runs later. Kaif failed to make his ground after being refused a run by Ganguly. On the final day, it took Sri Lanka barely an hour to clean up. No. 10 Zaheer Khan struck live fours and two sixes in a Test-best 45 off 40 balls before Muralitharan snapped him up for final match figures of 11 for 196.

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