x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Sri Lanka make solid start in Muralitharan's final Test

Paranavitana and Sangakkara make centuries as Sri Lanka finish at 256 for two in their first Test against India.

GALLE, SRI LANKA // Tharanga Paranavitana scored his first Test hundred and shared a 181-run stand with another century-maker, Kumar Sangakkara, as Sri Lanka dominated day one of the first Test against India. Sri Lanka finished at 256 for two with play called off for the day shortly after tea because of rain. Paranavitana was undefeated on 110 off 229 balls with 12 boundaries and Mahela Jayawardene was not out on eight at the Galle International Stadium.

Paranavitana said he was delighted at finally scoring a century after four previous Test 50s. "I concentrated a lot on scoring big hundreds in domestic cricket and I am happy that I was able to achieve it at home and against India," Paranavitana said. Sangakkara was out for 103 ? his 22nd Test century ? caught by Sachin Tendulkar in the deep off the part-time spin bowler Virender Sehwag. He faced 145 balls and hit 12 fours.

The second wicket pair of Sangakkara and Paranavitana came together with the total on 55 when the Sri Lanka lost opener Tillakartne Dilshan (25), caught by the wicketkeeper Mehendra Singh Dhoni off debut seam bowler Abhimanyu Mithun. India went into the match without injured key bowlers Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth. Mithun finished with 1-41 in 13 overs while Sehwag was 1-23. India coach Gary Kirsten said Khan's absence was the reason for India's poor performance.

"As we know he plays a massive role," Kirsten said. "It just shows what experience does at test match level. We obviously miss him." Kirsten said he expected his team to recover tomorrow. "We'd like to come out tomorrow and try and have a good session where we can get some wickets and restrict the scoring rate," he said. The match started one hour late because of a wet pitch due to overnight rain.

This is the last Test for Sri Lanka off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in a career spanning 18 years and 133 matches, including this one. Muralitharan, who holds the world record for the number of Test wickets, needs eight more to become the first bowler to reach 800. The International Cricket Council President Sharad Powar said Muralitharan had inspired a new generation of cricketers. "He has rewritten the history book and created a mark that will be difficult to surpass," Powar said in a statement.

"Murali, a modest man, has also been an excellent role model and great ambassador throughout his career, playing the game with not only great skill but also great spirit." * AP