The spin-twin shared as many as 19 wickets in the Test match to lead Lanka to a handsome an innings and 239-run victory over the clueless visitors on day four of the first of three-Test series at the SSC here on Saturday. Murali finished with 6/26 in the second essay- his 65th five-wicket haul in a Test innings- and returned with the match haul of 11/110 while his partner Mendis reaped a rich harvest of 8/60 in the match. Four scalps each in both the innings.
India succumbed to 223 and 138 in reply to Lanka's 600/6 decl. They lost as many as 16 wickets in just over two-and-a half sessions to suffer the third heaviest innings defeat in Tests.
Indian batsmen showed no stomach to fight on a strip Lankan batsmen made merry to pile up a massive total. The much vaunted Indian batting line-up failed miserably to read the veteran and rookie spinners while the youngsters, who are still in T20 mood, played rather hurried and sensless shots. End result: Morale-crushing defeat in the opener.
The visitors resuming at the overnight first innings score of 159/6 lost wickets in regular intervals eventually being bowled out for 223. Mendis taking cue from the Murali - who started the rot in the thid session of the third day's play - spun web around the lower-order batsmen. As though this wasn't enough Lanka packed off Sehwag (12) early in the second essay as India went to lunch at 21/1 with Gambhir and VVS at crease.
Mendis trapped Laxman plumb infront just moments after the lunch nine overs later Murali plucked the prized scalp of Tendulkar
caught by Dilshan at leg slip. Sachin miscued a paddle sweep off a delivery on outside the leg only to ballon it to Dilshan who took a fine diving catch but umpire Benson declined to give batsman out. Mahela asked for review and TV umpire over ruled umpire's decision. India slumped to 82/3. From then on it was a march past from the Indian batters to the tunes of Murali and Mendis.
Only Gambhir, top-scored for India in both the essays with 39 and 43, and VVS Laxman (56&21) seemed to have an appitite and skills to negoitate magical Murali and enigmatic Mendis. The rest of the batsmen looked sheepish against the wiles and giles of Murali-Mendis. Think of two more Tests and series result. Better not..
It was in offing for Twenty20-struck India...