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Sri Lanka survive nail-biter to win



THE MAN: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena, who was adjudged man-of-the-match for his brilliant century, receiving the Janashakthi Challenge Cup after Sri Lanka won the two-Test series, from the Chairman of Janashakthi Insurance, Chandra Schafter.

TEST CRICKET: Sri Lanka survived a nail-biter to pull off a dramatic win in the second and final Test against South Africa concluded at Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo yesterday.

Chasing a victory target of 352 in five sessions, the home team opened the final day at 262 for 5, still needing 90 runs to win with only five wickets in hand. Sri Lanka survived several anxious moments, that kept the spectators on their seats edge in the post lunch session, before last man Lasith Malinga hit the winning run, much to the joy of home supporters.

The victory, Sri Lanka's third successive Test win, enabled the home team to make a clean 2-0 sweep in the two-Test series and carry away the Janashakthi challenge cup.

It was Sri Lanka's highest successful run chase to win a Test, surpassing the 326 runs they scored to beat Zimbabwe in 1997/98.

In a match that swung both ways right from the first session, it looked as if Sri Lanka were heading for a sweet win at 279 for 5 after 78 overs before the visitors launched their final attack by capturing three wickets for nine runs.

Sri Lanka added just 17 runs to their overnight total before they lost overnight batsman Prasanna Jayawardena for 30, ending a valuable 78-run partnership for the sixth wicket with his captain Maheal Jayawardena.

South African Andrew Hall trapped the wicket keeper batsman leg before with a ball that pitched on off and reverse-swung.

But the Lankan captain, who played a highly responsible innings that was a blend of patience and courage, punished Hall for back to back boundaries just when he reached that nervous nineties. In Hall's 19th over, Jayawardena first scored a boundary with an on drive and in the very next ball, he had a square cut to the fence.

Hall proved to be too expensive in that over which cost him ten runs, including a no ball and a last ball single by Jayawardena.

In the very next over, Jayawardena reached his 16th century in his 83rd Test. He scored 100 in 250 minutes and 187 balls with 11 fours and two sixes to reach his fifth Test century against South Africa.

The key to Sri Lanka's successful run chase on the final day was two vital partnerships Jayawardena had at the end - 78 for the sixth with his stumper and then another 62 runs for the seventh with Farveez Maharoof, who remained unbeaten on 29 at the end.

The visitors took the new ball when the Sri Lankan total was 292 for 6 after 82 overs but that did not turn out to be a decisive factor. Sri Lanka reached their 300 runs after 374 minutes of batting off 87.3 overs for the loss of six wickets.

It looked as if Jayawardena's men were heading towards victory without much resistance as they took lunch at 333 for 6, needing just 19 runs to win and three wickets in hand. At the wicket were skipper Jayawardena on 117 n.o and Maharoof on 24 n.o.

Jayawardena's precious innings, which proved the backbone to the Lankan run chase along with that blistering 73 off 74 balls by opener Sanath Jayasuriya, came to an end when he charged down the pitch to be beaten by the turn of a Nicky Boje delivery and edged a catch to Herschelle Gibbs at slips.

Jayawardena's match winning knock of 123 came in 359 minutes off 248 balls with 11 fours and two sixes.

With the dismissal of captain Jayawardena, the South Africans re-grouped to turn the match in their favour and they were successful to a great extent as the home team struggled at the end. Sri Lanka suffered a severe blow to slump from 341 for 6 to 350 for 9.

Having lost Chaminda Vaas for just four runs with the total on 438 as the eighth wicket, Muttiah Muralitharan joined Maharoof to raise the heart beats of all those who were at the venue as well as hundreds of thousands of television viewers.

Muralitharan had two big hits and missed Andrew Hall, then took two runs. But in the very next Hall delivery, Muralitharan played and missed to be clean bowled.

The next three balls was the most interesting with last man Malinga joining Maharoof. Maharoof played and missed the first ball of Boje's 20th over to survive a close leg before appeal. He took a single off the next to expose Malinga to hit the winning run. But the Lankan last man magnificently straight drove Boje's third ball to the fence to pull off that exciting win.

Sri Lanka captain Jayawardena, who became the fifth batsman in the world to aggregate over 500 runs in a two-Test series (510 runs), was adjudged man of the match.

With a rich tally of 22 wickets in just couple of Tests, Muttiah Muralitharan won the man of the series award.

SOUTH AFRICA  1ST INNINGS  361  
(A. de Villiers 95, A. Prince 86, S. Pollock 57no; M. Muralitharan 5-128)                   

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS  321  
(C. Vaas 64, C. Kapugedera 63, F. Maharoof 56; D. Steyn 5-82, M. Ntini 4-84)              

SOUTH AFRICA  2ND INNINGS  311  
H. Gibbs 92, M. Boucher 65; M. Muralitharan 7-97)                                          

SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS
(Overnight: 262-5;  Target: 352 runs)                  

U. Tharanga c Gibbs b Ntini		00
S. Jayasuriya c Amla b Boje		73
K. Sangakkara c Amla b Pollock		39
M. Jayawardene c Gibbs b Boje		123
T. Dilshan c Gibbs b Boje		18
C. Kapugedera c AB de Villiers b Boje	13
P. Jayawardene lbw b Hall		30
F. Maharoof not out			29
C. Vaas c AB de Villiers b Hall		04
M. Muralitharan b Hall			02
L. Malinga not out			01
Extras (b-4 lb-8 nb-4 w-4)		20
TOTAL (for 9 wickets, 113.3 overs)	352
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-12, 2-94, 3-121, 4-164, 
5-201, 6-279, 7-341, 8-348, 9-350.
BOWLING: M. Ntini 7.2-2-13-1, D. Steyn 22.4-2-81-0 (nb-2 w-3), 
N. Boje 39.3-11-111-4, S. Pollock 19-2-60-1(nb-2), A. Hall 25-3-75-3(w-1),
 

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