COLOMBO // The veteran Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and the new sensation Ajantha Mendis accounted for 19 of the 20 wicketsthat helped their team record a victory over India with a day to spare of the first Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club on Saturday. The duo destroyed India, who managed a mere 138 in the second innings - after scoring 223 in the first - as Sri Lanka wrapped up the match by an innings and 239 runs.
Mendis recorded the best figures by a Sri Lankan making his Test debut as he finished with a haul of 8-132 runs. Muralitharan grabbed 11 wickets for 110 runs to record his 21st Test 10-wicket haul. The size of the victory left the Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene in shock. He said "I was surprised the way India crumbled. I expected a better fight from them. The effort by Murali and Ajantha against a team that plays spin well was awesome."
But the Indian skipper Anil Kumble, while showing his disgust at the manner in which his team lost, said his players were capable of regrouping to settle scores in the second Test which begins in Galle on July 31. "We have to take a good look at the way we batted that put us under pressure. Our bowling was also not up to the mark. But we have also been in similar situations before and we got the experience to come back," hs said.
India's Virender Sehwag became the first batsman to be ruled out under the new appeal system when the third umpire ruled him out LBW to Muralitharan after the on-field umpire Mark Benson rejected the appeal. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were also ruled out to catches by the third umpire. India, resuming at 159-6, added 54 to their first inning total, thanks to a last wicket stand of 35 in 18 overs between VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma. Mendis added three wickets to his overnight victim to finish with 4-72 from 27.5 overs.
Murali and Mendis then shared all 10 wickets in the second innings as the batting fell apart under overcast conditions, which was the order of all four days. Murali led the way with 6-26. Laxman, India's top-scorer in the first innings with 56 runs, was promoted up the order. He fell to Mendis for the second time in the match, trapped in front with the total at 53. Tendulkar was next out after Jayawardene used the referral for a catch down leg slip and the rest of the batting fell like pins.