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Six-wicket Muralitharan destroys England hopes

Written by: Staff
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NOTTINGHAM, England, June 5 (Reuters) Muttiah Muralitharan single-handedly scythed through England's top order to take Sri Lanka close to a series-saving victory in the third and final test against England today.

The home side, 1-0 up in the series and set a record 325 to win on a dry, wearing pitch, collapsed from 84 without loss to 125 for six at tea on the fourth day, with the off spinner taking all the wickets.

Muralitharan at one stage took four for seven runs in 31 balls, including the scalps of Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen in the same over. Wicket to wicket, he took six for 13 off 69 balls.

The possibility of only the third test 10-wicket haul by a bowler in one innings was looming large, with no other Sri Lankan bowler posing a significant threat.

Geraint Jones, the last recognised batsman, was on two not out with Liam Plunkett yet to score.

Sri Lanka, in truth, had always looked well placed after an excellent performance by their batsmen in the second innings, when they scored 322 after 231 in the first.

Muralitharan spent most of this morning licking his lips as he watched England's young spinner Monty Panesar wrap up the Sri Lankan innings by completing figures of five for 78, his first test five-wicket haul.

ERRATIC PITCH By then, the dry pitch was becoming increasingly erratic in bounce and looked more Colombo than Trent Bridge.

England's batsmen looked fine against the new ball attack but things changed dramatically despite an encouraging start.

MORE REUTERS AY PM2130

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