Murali edges closer as India falter
Sachin Tendulkar became Muttiah Muralitharan’s 793rd Test scalp as Sri Lanka made up for lost time on day three against India at Galle.
After rain made no play possible yesterday, the hosts extended their first innings from 256 for two to 520 for eight declared.
Muralitharan, aiming to reach 800 wickets in his final Test, left India with plenty to do to avoid defeat by trapping his fellow legend in front.
Opener Virender Sehwag appears to be the tourists’ best hope of a match-saving total as he reached the close with 85 of India’s 140 for three to his name.
Earlier in the day, Rangana Herath’s 80 not out and 64 from Lasith Malinga in a seventh-wicket stand worth 115 helped Sri Lanka build on their strong opening-day display, when opener Tharanga Paranavitana and captain Kumar Sangakkara struck centuries.
Paranavitana added only one today when Ishant Sharma had him caught behind for 111 in the second over.
Debutant seamer Abhimanyu Mithun then trapped Thilan Samaraweera leg before for nought in the next over.
Angelo Mathews and Mahela Jayawardene rallied, putting on 62 for the fifth wicket. Jayawardene, in particular, scored fluently with regular boundaries.
However, shortly after the hosts passed the 300-mark, Jayawardene became Sharma's second wicket, lbw for 48.
Mathews too looked in good nick, taking just 58 deliveries for his 41 before edging an outswinging delivery from Sharma to Laxman at second slip.
Prasanna Jayawardene gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about in the final over before lunch, smashing a below-par Harbhajan Singh for two fours and a six.
He continued where he had left off after the interval, helping himself to boundaries off Harbhajan, while at the other end Herath signalled his intentions by lifting Mithun for six over long-on.
Mithun, however, hit back just two deliveries later, snaring Jayawardene lbw for 27 to claim his third wicket.
Herath reached his maiden Test fifty in style, hitting Harbhajan for a boundary behind point.
Malinga blazed away at the other end - smashing nine fours and two sixes during his innings - before being caught at fine-leg off Mithun shortly before the declaration.
India began their innings immediately after tea and were dealt an early blow when paceman Malinga trapped Gambhir in front second ball.
But, with Sehwag and veteran Rahul Dravid leading the charge, India advanced at a run a ball in the first 10 overs.
They had put on 66 when Dravid was run out at the non-striker’s end, attempting a second after Malinga misfielded.
Sehwag went to 50 with a single, before Tendulkar perished as he tried to sweep Muralitharan.
Sehwag and VVS Laxman saw India to the close as bad light intervened.