Muralitharan closes in on 800 as India struggle

GALLE, Sri Lanka, (Reuters) – Muttiah Muralitharan  edged closer to capturing his 800th test wicket in his farewell  match as Sri Lanka pushed a floundering India to the brink of  defeat yesterday.

India, who were dismissed for 276 in their first innings,  ended the fourth day on 181 for five and need at least another  63 runs to avoid an innings defeat on the final day of the first  test.
Muralitharan now stands just two wickets away from the  landmark figure after he added Yuvraj Singh’s scalp to the five  wickets he took during India’s first innings.

Yuvraj edged a catch to Mahela Jayawardene at slip in the  final over of the day to give Muralitharan figures of one for  57.

However, it was fast bowler Lasith Malinga’s fiery second  spell that broke the back of the Indian batting.

He sent back opener Gautam Gambhir caught behind without  scoring off the third ball and later came back to dismiss Rahul  Dravid for 44 and Sachin Tendulkar for 84 to finish the day with  three for 33.

Dravid and Tendulkar looked like rescuing India after they  had lost first innings century-maker Virender Sehwag for 31 when  he was snapped up brilliantly by Jayawardene at gully.

The pair figured in a third wicket partnership of 119 but  Malinga’s spell ended their charge. Dravid was caught at leg  gully as he flicked a ball off his legs and Tendulkar was  trapped lbw by a fast yorker aimed at his leg stump.
In his final test, Muralitharan picked up his 67th  five-wicket haul and forced India to follow-on after they had  resumed their first innings at 140-3.

Having dismissed Tendulkar in the first innings on the third  day, Muralitharan added the wickets of Yuvraj (52), skipper  Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33) and tailenders Pragyan Ojha and  Abhimanyu Mithun.

Sehwag reached his 20th test century in the second over of  the morning with a streaky inside-edged four off Angelo Mathews.

However, he went chasing after a wide delivery from Chanaka  Welegedara on 109 and edged a catch to first slip after hitting  19 fours and a six in his 118-ball innings.

Malinga removed the other overnight batsman VVS Laxman for  22 when he top-edged a pull to deep square leg.

Yuvraj and Dhoni steadied the Indian innings with a  sixth-wicket stand of 74 before Muralitharan broke through.

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