Sri Lankan cricket team’s captain Mahela Jayawardene on Monday hailed Muttiah Muralitharan as the greatest-ever spinner after another match-winning performance in the first Test here against South Africa.
The 34-year-old spin wizard picked up a match haul of 10-172 as South Africa were thrashed by an innings and 153 runs to concede the lead in the two-match series. Muralitharan grabbed 6-131 as the tourists, 587 runs behind on the first innings, were bowled out for 434 in their second knock after lunch on the fifth day at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC).
“There is no doubt in my mind that Murali is the greatest spinner ever,” said Jayawardene, who was named man of the match for the fourth highest Test score of 374 in Sri Lanka’s innings. “These were difficult conditions to bowl in. It was very hot and humid and the wicket was getting slower, slower and slower as the match progressed.
“Yet Murali bowled 64 overs in the second innings and just kept probing the batsmen. He is so hungry for wickets. I am certain he would have been named man of the match if I had not got that big score or the record stand.”
Muralitharan, 34, now has 645 wickets in 107 Tests, second in the all-time list behind Australian Shane Warne’s record tally of 685 in 140 matches. Jayawardene said his team gained enormously from the recent tour of England where they fought back to draw the Test series 1-1 and blanked the hosts 5-0 in the one-dayers. “That tour gave us the confidence to play better,” he said. “We had to make sure we did not go off the boil and needed to stick to our game plan.
“We were very positive in everything we did here. It was a great achievement by the whole team.” South African captain Ashwell Prince said the low score in the first innings let his team down. “We had our backs against the wall from the first day,” said Prince. “In hindsight I would still have batted first on winning the toss even though the wicket got easier on the second and third days.
“As I told the boys, there were too many soft dismissals that caused our downfall and it was always going to be a struggle from there. “But the guys showed great courage in what were not easy conditions. We batted quite well the second time, which is a great positive to take from the match. We will be better prepared for the second Test,” he added.
South African coach Mickey Arthur said touring Sri Lanka was the second most difficult job in cricket after playing in Australia. “Those are the two toughest tours in the game,” he said. “Sri Lanka is such a tough opponent at home.”
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006 and is filed under General.
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