India Pakistan Cricket series - Special Coverage




Murali reaches 500 as bowlers rule

KANDY, Sri Lanka, March 16 - Muttiah Muralitharan followed spinner Shane Warne to become the third bowler in history to claim 500 wickets on the opening day of the second test against Australia on Tuesday. The day saw both side collapsing in dramatic fashion in what promises to be low scoring thriller.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat on a lively wicket before being skittled for 120 in 42.2 overs. Australia opener Matthew Hayden made 54, the only batsman to get past 20 all day, while the quick bowlers and the spinners prospered.

Muralitharan set the trend. Starting with 496 victims from 86 matches, he grabbed four for 48 from 15 overs. It was Australia lowest test score against Sri Lanka.

Only Courtney Walsh, with 519, and Shane Warne, who passed the 500 mark during the first test in Galle, have accumulated more wickets.

"It was happy moment for me to take 500 wickets against Australia, the best team in the world, and special for me to do it here in Kandy (his hometown)," Muralitharan said.

"I now want to play until the 2007 World Cup so I can play another 25 to 30 tests and can reach 650 wickets."

Left-arm seamer Nuwan Zoysa stole some of the spotlight, taking a career best four for 54 from 16 overs on his return to the test team as Australia imploded from 47 for one.

Hayden and fellow opener Justin Langer rode their luck during the first hour before Zoysa broke through, Langer padding away an inswinger and falling lbw for three.

Ricky Ponting (10) started confidently, driving two boundaries off Zoysa, but was then trapped lbw by Chaminda Vaas despite taking a big stride forward.

Muralitharan pinned Damien Martyn, on one, lbw and Zoysa bowled Darren Lehmann for eight behind his legs,

Zoysa caused more problems after lunch as three wickets fell for two runs.

Tillakaratne clung on to a juggling catch at slip off Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist nicked a catch behind for a second-ball duck.

Muralitharan then ended Hayden's 99-ball resistance, trapping him lbw with a straighter ball, to make it 86 for seven.

The spinner reached the 500 mark by having Jason Gillespie caught at slip and bowling Michael Kasprowicz through the gate.

Australia's previous lowest total against Sri Lanka was 140, scored at Kandy during their 1999 tour. They lost that game by six wickets.

They fought back immediately on Tuesday, however, pace bowler Kasprowicz producing a three-wicket burst with the new ball.

Sanath Jayasuriya (1) and Avishka Gunawardene (13) were trapped lbw by inswingers and Marvan Atapattu gloved a catch down the leg side.

Jason Gillespie hurried a bouncer onto Kumar Sangakkara, who top-edged a hook, to make it 49 for four before Warne lulled Mahela Jayawardene into a reckless heave and trapped Tillakaratne Dilshan lbw first ball.

Hashan Tillakaratne (16) and Vaas added 21 before Warne finished off Australia's day on a high as Tillakaratne edged behind.

Sri Lanka coach John Dyson felt that the pitch, under cover for nearly 36 hours before the match because of wet weather, had been difficult to bat on.

"It was a lively wicket after the rain and both teams struggled on it," Dyson told reporters, before defending the attacking intent of his batsmen.

"They had to decide whether to try to survive or take the attack to the opposition. I admire their courage for trying to take the initiative away from the bowlers."

Australia won the first test by 197 runs in Galle last week.