Murali equals Warne's record as England slump

Published: Sunday, December 2, 2007, 15:28 [IST]
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Kandy: Muttiah Muralitharan equalled Shane Warne's world record tally of 708 wickets as Sri Lanka sent England crashing in the first cricket Test here on Sunday.

The 35-year-old off-spinner grabbed 4 for 30 in his 23 overs as England, replying to Sri Lanka's modest 188, slumped to 186-6 by tea on the second day at the Asgiriya stadium.

However the final session of the day was abandoned owing to badlight and wet ground conditions.

Muralitharan, looking unplayable on a wicket with uneven bounce, was held up by rain in his bid to surpass the retired Warne as heavy showers over this hill resort forced umpires to call an early tea.

Paul Collingwood was keeping England's challenge alive at the break with a dour 14 not out while Ryan Sidebottom was on one.

Muralitharan, who went into the match needing five wickets to become Test cricket's most successful bowler, had debutant Ravi Bopara caught behind by wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene to draw level with Warne.

England took their lunch score of 145-3 to 170 before three wickets fell for 15 runs, two of them to Muralitharan, who had also taken both wickets to fall in the morning session.

The off-spinner trapped Kevin Pietersen leg-before for 31 and dismissed Bopara for eight before Dilhara Fernando had Matthew Prior caught at mid-wicket by Jehan Mubarak.

Earlier, Ian Bell (83) and captain Michael Vaughan put on 107 for the second wicket after opener Alastair Cook had been removed third ball in Saturday's final session.

The partnership, which threatened to take the game away from Sri Lanka, was cut short by a controversial decision by Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar against the England captain just before lunch.

Vaughan, looking solid on 37, was given out caught at silly-point off Muralitharan even as television replays showed the ball may have bounced off the pad to the fielder.

A shocked Vaughan stood aghast at his crease as Dar raised his finger, before trudging back slowly to the pavilion amid loud jeers from 3,000 England supporters at the Asgiriya stadium.

There was, however, no doubt about Bell's wicket as Chamara Silva lunged to his left at short mid-on to catch an uppish flick by the batsman off Muralitharan.

Muralitharan restricted England's batsmen in the morning session, conceding just 18 runs in 14 overs for his double success.

England had started the morning at a brisk pace, making 48 runs in 15 overs in the first hour.

Bell opened proceedings by driving the first ball of the day from Fernando for four and later flicked the same bowler for another boundary to bring up his 15th Test half-century.

Muralitharan, who came on in the day's eighth over, was welcomed by a lofted boundary by Bell to wide mid-on.

Vaughan brought up the century stand with a majestic pull off Chaminda Vaas that raced to the square-leg fence.

Brief Scores:

Sri Lanka Ist innings 188 Vs England Ist innings 186/6 (Ian Bell 83, Vaughan 37, Pietersen 31, Collingwood 14*; Muralitharan 4 for 30, Fernando 1 for 28).


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