Murali puts India in a spin
Tillakaratne Dilshan became the fourth Sri Lankan centurion of the first innings before Muttiah Muralitharan struck late on.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 26/07/08 12:34pm
First Test Match
Sri Lanka 600-6 dec (D P M D Jayawardene 136, T T Samaraweera 127, T M Dilshan 125 no, B S M Warnapura 115) v India 159-6 (M Muralitharan 4-38
Tillakaratne Dilshan became the fourth Sri Lankan centurion of the first innings before Muttiah Muralitharan stole the show to put the hosts firmly in command at stumps on day three of the first Test against India.
Mahela Jayewardene finally gave the tourists a break after two-and-a-half days of toiling in the Colombo heat - the scoreboard ticking over to 600 triggering a declaration from the Sri Lanka skipper.
Dilshan left the field unbeaten on 125, joining Malinda Warnapura, Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera in reaching three figures.
It could have been an altogether different story for Dilshan, who on the second day became the first ever batsmen to have a decision overturned after being adjudged caught behind.
Dilshan made the most of his reprieve, and, ably supported by Prassana Jayawardena (30) and Chaminda Vaas (22 not out) the Sri Lanka all-rounder made sure his side reached 600 for the seventh time in their history.
The Indian response was soon dealt a massive blow when Virender Sehwag was guilty of playing one shot too many after making a quick-fire 25.
The trap was set for the explosive opener, and he could only top-edge Nuwan Kulasekara's bouncer to Warnapura who held on out on the square-leg boundary.
After 12 overs of seam, Jayawardene introduced Muralitharan into the attack - a move which promptly saw the Sri Lankan spin wizard pick up his 150th wicket at the Sinhalese Sports Ground.
A slower delivery from Muralitharan found the leading edge of Gautam Ghambir's bat and Samaraweera took the simplest of catches at short cover to remove the left-hander for a fluent 39.
India found themselves in more trouble just four balls later when Murali's protégé Ajantha Mendis took his first ever Test scalp.
It was a moment to remember for the 23-year-old as his devilish "carrom ball" beat Rahul Dravid all ends up and crashed into the off stump, sparking scenes of delirium inside the stadium.
With the tourists reeling at 79-3, Jayawardene piled on the pressure with Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly together at the crease.
Mendis and Muralitharan bowled beautifully in tandem, and it was the latter who reminded the Sri Lankan public who their number one spinner is as he struck a further three times before the close of play.
Tendulkar was the next man to depart for 27 when he was bamboozled by a doosra which went onto the stumps via an inside edge.
The masterclass continued six overs later as Ganguly fell foul to some Murali magic - only managing to top-edge his sweep to Kulasekara running in from the square-leg boundary for 23.
And just as the light faded there was time for one more doosra, and one more wicket, as wicket-keeper Dinesh Kartik (9) had no answer to another expertly flighted delivery that gave Murali a return catch.
Muralitharan finished the day with figures of 4-38 leaving India perilously poised 441 runs behind Sri Lanka's mammoth first-innings total with just four wickets remaining.