|Poetry in motion: Muttiah Muralitharan
delivers a ball [AFP]
Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan took three wickets apiece as their side charged to an 88-run win in the first test against England.
Needing 350 runs in the second innings to win, England resumed the final day at 9-1 before a 109-run stand between Ian Bell and Matthew Prior in the middle session gave them hope of batting out a draw.
But Muralitharan took three wickets with the second new ball to dismiss England for 261.
Muralitharan, who took six wickets in the first innings and broke the world record for test wickets on Monday, struggled in earlier sessions but struck rhythm to dismiss Bell and Prior in consecutive overs.
With the total at 248, Prior misread a ball from Muralitharan that went straight and was bowled for 63 with eight boundaries in 147 balls.
In his next over, Muralitharan bowled Bell through bat and pad for 74 off 209 balls, including six fours.
“We knew there are going to be tough situations for us,” Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said.
“Once the ball is older its quite difficult to do much, the wicket was slower.
“Murali came to the party late, but it had a big impact with those two big wickets.”
Ryan Sidebottom was unlucky to be ruled lbw by Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf with the total at 253.
TV replays showed that Sidebottom inside-edged Muralitharan’s delivery onto his pads.
Lasith Malinga then bowled Matthew Hoggard to give Sri Lanka its first win over England at Asgiriya Stadium.
Vaas finished with bowling figures of 3-56, while Muralitharan took 3-85.
“(We are) disappointed to lose the game when you are probably 20 or 30 minutes from a really good draw,” England captain Michael Vaughan said.
During the morning session, Vaas and Dilhara Fernando claimed two wickets each to rip through England’s top order as the visitors went to lunch on 125-5.
England lost captain Michael Vaughan (5), caught behind by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene off Vaas.
Vaas also went on to bowl nightwatchman James Anderson for 11.
Kevin Pietersen (18) was beaten by a delivery from Fernando that kept low and clipped off stump, while Paul Collingwood (16) powerfully drove a ball from Fernando to Kumar Sangakkara at extra cover to leave England on 90-5.
Rookie Ravi Bopara was the only batsman to be dismissed in the middle session, trapped lbw to left-arm spinner Sanath Jayasuriya with England on 139.
Jayawardene is wary of England bouncing back in the second test starting next week in Colombo.
“You can’t underestimate England, they have got some quality players,” he said.
“Now we got an advantage from being 40 for five during the first hour of the test match to come back and win, we are delighted with the effort.
“We just need to press this advantage and make sure that we don’t allow England come back at us.”