Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 24 News List

India nails down series as spinners skittle Sri Lanka

CRICKETIndia rose to second place in the world Test rankings yesterday after thrashing Sri Lanka by 259 runs in the third and last Test to clinch the series 2-0


India seized a runaway 259-run victory in the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka as the spinners took just 30 minutes to snare the last four wickets yesterday, clinching the series 2-0.

Chasing a never-achieved victory target of 509, Sri Lanka was bundled out for 249 as it lost four wickets in adding just 14 runs to the overnight score.

This victory propelled India to the No. 2 position in the world Test rankings behind Australia.

India won the first Test match in New Delhi by 188 runs.

Leg-spinner Anil Kumble, playing in his 100th Test match, claimed five-wickets in an innings for the 35th time when he returned figures of five for 89, while off-spinner Harbhajan Singh finished with three for 79.

Kumble was adjudged the best player of the series after claiming 20 wickets.

Having bagged seven wickets in Sri Lanka's first innings, Singh got the man of the match award for his 10-wicket haul -- the fourth time in 50 Tests that he grabbed 10 wickets in a match.

No team in Test cricket's 128-year history has successfully chased such a massive victory target.

The biggest victory chase in Test cricket was 418 by the West Indies against Australia in St. John's, Antigua two years ago.

Sri Lanka's highest victory target achieved was 326 against Zimbabwe in Colombo in 1998.

Kumble dismissed overnight batsman Farveez Maharoof (2) on the third delivery of the day, trapping him LBW with a flipper without the addition of any runs yesterday.

Jehan Mubarak also failed to increase his overnight score on 18 before falling in the next over from Singh, edging a catch to V.V.S. Laxman at first slip.

Muttiah Muralitharan scored three runs before Singh dismantled his stumps and Kumble wrapped up the match by having Malinga Bhandara (11) snapped by stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag -- who clinched a victory in his maiden Test as captain.

Sehwag led India in the absence of indisposed captain Rahul Dravid.

"It was tough captaining the team as I'd missed the last Test match due to fever, but I'm delighted at leading India to a win," Sehwag said.

"It was the urge to win that helped us secure victory," he said. "The spinners did a great job as claiming wickets on this track wasn't easy."

Sehwag said he decided to give spin bowler Singh the new ball in the second innings, expecting him to force the batsmen into errors through some extra bounce.

"Our lower order batted very well after the top half didn't contribute much," said Sehwag, who praised left-hander Irfan Pathan for his contribution with the bat.

He conceded that India's opening batsmen, including Sehwag, were not in good form.

"Opening is still a worry and I'm also not getting enough runs. But I'm playing my natural game and not thinking too much about it," Sehwag said.

Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, said his players allowed India to get out of tight positions.

"We lacked killer instinct. We had opportunities, but did not take them in New Delhi as well as in Ahmadabad," Moody said.

"We allowed the Tests to slip away from strong positions. Our batsmen lacked concentration to play big knocks, and we were playing two of the world's best spinners in conditions favoring them," he said.

also see story:

England wins last game, loses series

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