Colombo, July 26 : The Indian cricket team plunged to a massive innings and 239 run defeat against Sri Lanka in the first of three Tests that was played at the Sinhala Sports Complex (SSC) ground here on Saturday.
Mesmerised by the spinners -- Muthiah Murlitharan and Ajantha Mendis -- the Indian batters had no idea had to tackle them. The sole exceptions were V.V.S. Laxman in the first innings (56) and Gautam Gambhir (39) in the second innings.
Muralitharan and Mendis shared all ten second-innings wickets between them to script a tremendous victory for the hosts inside four days.
Earlier, India was asked to follow-on, and folded up in just 45 overs. Muralitharan finished with match figures of 11 for 110. ith India trailing by 377 in the first innings, the follow-on decision was a no-brainer. The new-ball bowlers bowled only 16 overs in the first innings, with Murali and Mendis bowling 49 successive overs in tandem. Going by the trend, it seemed the new-ball bowlers might bowl even fewer overs than they did in the first innings. Jayawardene promptly summoned his spinners five overs into the second innings and struck immediately. Murali accounted for Sehwag in a controversial manner, with what was the last ball before lunch.
In the next session, India lost five. Hoping for a repeat of Kolkata 2001, Laxman, the first-innings half-centurion, was promoted to No. 3. He hit three beautiful boundaries off the medium-pacers, before Mendis nailed him. This time it was the quicker googly, perhaps because the ball was fairly new, which caught him on the back foot. Laxman didn't have a clue as to which way it would spin, and was out plumb.
Tendulkar was a tad unfortunate, when he missed a sweep outside the leg stump, and the ball caught the edge and lobbed to leg slip. Gambhir found his Pied Piper in Murali, and was drawn out for the second time in two innings and beaten in the flight. Prasanna Jayawardene completed an exceptional stumping to register his presence.
Just before tea, Murali got Ganguly to edge to second slip. Mendis then had Dravid caught of bat and pad.
India had started the day needing 242 runs to avoid the follow-on, and managed only 64. Muralitharan completed his 64th five-for with Harbhajan Singh's wicket. It was the 13th time that he had taken five wickets at the SSC.
The scores: Sri Lanka 600 for 6 dec (Jayawardene 136, Dilshan 125*, Warnapura 115, Samaraweera 127) beat India 223 (Laxman 56, Murali 5-84, Mendis 4-72) and 138 (Gambhir 43, Murali 6-26, Mendis 4-60) by an innings and 239 runs.