Chris Dhambarage, Courtesy of Daily News, 18 December 2010
The record breaking performance of legendary off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan took centre stage as the Sri Lanka cricket team completed another highly successful year in all formats of the game. As the year 2010 draws to the end Kumar Sangakkara and his team could look back with a great amount of satisfaction having enjoyed success both at home and away. In fact Sangakkara had the distinction of becoming the number one batsman in the ICC Test Rankings for batsmen while pushing India’s Sachin Tendulkar into second place.
Even then it was the single effort of Muttiah Muralitharan that really lifted the country to greater heights as the entire World watched the drama unfold when he captured his 800th wicket in a most spectacular manner. He will go down in history as one of the greatest cricketers ever to have played the game. Having represented the country in a total of 133 test matches during a span of eighteen years Muralitharan is undoubtedly one of the most adored characters in World cricket. Muralitharan not only had the potential to spellbind the audience with his sensational deliveries but he was also a perfect ambassador for the game of cricket that he has been associated since 1992.
The historic Galle International Stadium was the venue for his epic performance as he dismissed India’s last man Pragyan Ohja on the final day of the opening Test match of the series.
With this performance Muttiah Muralitharan achieved another milestone when he completed a total of one hundred wickets against India in his farewell test match. He is the first bowler in test history to perform this unique feat.
Pic from Daily Mirror
In the process of his brilliant performance he also equalled former Australian legend Shane Warne’s record of aggregating over 100 wickets against three different countries. Muralitharan had earlier captured 112 wickets against England and 104 wickets against South Africa respectively. In addition Muralitharan has captured the most number of 10-wicket hauls in Test cricket (18 matches) and also has the most 5-wicket hauls in an innings at Test level.
As the series ended in a deadlock Sri Lanka suffered badly as they slipped into the fifth place in the ICC Test Rankings for teams. More disappointment was to follow as their ensuing five match one day series against the same opponents was also postponed to January due to bad weather.
Sri Lanka of course had started the year 2010 on a bright note having clinched the Triangular Series in Bangladesh. After losing to India in a preliminary round game the Lankans held their nerves to beat the same opponents by four wickets in the final.
Man of the Match Nuwan Kulasekera led the way with a four wicket haul as India were restricted to 245 runs from 48.2 overs. Sri Lanka reached their target with nine deliveries to spare following half centuries from Mahela Jayawardena and skipper Kumar Sangakkara who was named Man of the Series.
In fact Sangakkara was in cracking form in this tournament where he averaged 91.66 including one century and two half centuries. The other reason for Sri Lanka’s success was that their entire top order was among the runs with Mahela Jayawardena, Upul Tharanga, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera all scoring a century each.
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In the bowling department it was the two newcomers-paceman Thisara Perera and spinner Suraj Randiv who did most of the damage while maintaining an economy rate of well under five runs per over.
Sri Lanka then experienced mixed fortunes in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup where they came up to the semi-final stage onwards before going down to the eventual champions England by seven wickets.
Despite their exit from the semi-finals this was quite an encouraging performance considering the fact that they had lost their opening group ‘B’ match of the tournament against New Zealand by two wickets.
But thereafter Sri Lanka really fought their way to register some fantastic victories and reach the last four with a nail biting last ball five wicket win over India at Gros Islet.
Sri Lanka needed three runs from the last ball and middle order batsman Chamara Kapugedera rose to the occasion by hoisting Ashish Nehra for a six and seal the game for his team.
Among the other players Mahela Jayawardena was outstanding with a total of 302 runs from six outings and his average of 60.40 and strike rate of 199.78 was really amazing.
This was followed by a historic Twenty20 International series against New Zealand in the United States of America. After having conceded the opening match by 28 runs Sri Lanka came back well to pull off a convincing seven wicket win in the second match and to draw the series one all.
Sri Lanka then took wing to Zimbabwe with a new look combination and under the captaincy of dashing opener Tillekeratne Dilshan. The team certainly performed beyond expectations and they lifted the Tri Series Trophy with a nine wicket win over the hosts in the final. Skipper Dilshan led the way with a smashing unbeaten one hundred that helped him to win the Man of the Match award.
Altogether he accumulated a total of 328 runs at an average of 109.33 inclusive of one hundred and three fifties. Among the new comers Dinesh Chandimal also hammered a century while spinners Suraj Randiv and Jeewan Mendis excelled with the ball.
Back at home Sri Lanka surrendered the Asia Cup while going down to India by 81 runs in the final at Dambulla. Until then they were unbeaten throughout the tournament having earlier defeated India, Pakistan and Bangladesh quite convincingly. But when it came into the final Sri Lanka lost the vital toss and with that their chances of retaining the title also disappeared as the Indians piled up a formidable 268 for 6 from their 50 overs.
This series also marked the return of dynamic all rounder Farveez Maharoof who took a five wicket haul including a rare hat-trick during a preliminary round game against India.
Sri Lanka then avenged their Asia Cup defeat by winning the Tri Series tournament over India and New Zealand at Dambulla. The Lankans rallied around through a fine century from Tillekeratne Dilshan to post a challenging 299 for 8 and dismissed the Indians for 225 runs.
Sri Lanka also had the honour of winning their first ever series down under when they triumphed 2-1 against Australia in a three match contest. The manner in which they performed their task was really outstanding. The first one day international will always be remembered by two players Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga for their brave batting performance where they added a record 132 runs for the ninth wicket.
How Sri Lanka fared in the year 2010
Triangular series in Bangladesh:
Beat Bangladesh by 7 wickets in Dhaka, beat India by 5 wickets in Dhaka, Beat Bangladesh by 9 wickets in Dhaka, Lost to India by 8 wickets in Dhaka, (final) beat India by 4 wickets in Dhaka.
ICC Twenty20 World Cup in West Indies:
Lost to New Zealand by 2 wickets at Providence, beat Zimbabwe by 14 runs on Duckworth and Lewis scoring method at Providence, beat West Indies by 57 runs at Bridgetown, lost to Australia by 81 runs at Bridgetown, beat India by 5 wickets at Gros Islet, (semi-final) lost to England by 7 wickets at Gros Islet.
Twenty20 Series in USA:
Lost to New Zealand by 28 runs at Lauderhill, beat New Zealand by 7 wickets at Lauderhill.
Tri Series in Zimbabwe:
Lost to India by 7 wickets at Bulawayo, beat Zimbabwe by 9 wickets at Bulawayo, beat India by 6 wickets at Harare, lost to Zimbabwe by 8 wickets at Harare, (final) beat Zimbabwe by 9 wickets at Harare.
Asia Cup tournament in Sri Lanka:
Beat Pakistan by 16 runs at Dambulla, beat Bangladesh by 126 runs at Dambulla, beat India by 7 wickets at Dambulla, (final) lost to India by 81 runs at Dambulla.
Test Series against India:
Beat India by 10 wickets at the Galle International Stadium, drew with India at the SSC ground, lost to India by 5 wickets at the P. Saravanamuttu Oval.
Triangular Series in Sri Lanka:
Beat New Zealand by 3 wickets at Dambulla, lost to India by 6 wickets at Dambulla, no result against New Zealand, beat India by 8 wickets, (final): beat India by 74 runs at Dambulla.
Sri Lanka in Australia Twenty20 match and one day series:
Beat Australia by 7 wickets at Perth, beat Australia by 1 wicket at Melbourne, beat Australia by 29 runs on Duckworth and Lewis scoring method, lost to Australia by 8 wickets at Brisbane.
Test series against West Indies:
Drew with West Indies at the Galle International Stadium, drew with West Indies at R. Premadasa Stadium, drew with West Indies at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Hong Kong sixes:
Beat New Zealand by 3 runs at Kowloon, beat Pakistan by 5 wickets at Kowloon, beat India by 17 runs at Kowloon, (semi-final) lost to Australia by 1 run at Kowloon.
Asian Games in China:
Beat Nepal by 2 wickets at Guangzhou, (semi-final) lost to Bangladesh by 5 wickets at Guangzhou, (3rd place play off) lost to Pakistan by 6 wickets at Guangzhou.
Most wickets for Sri Lanka in Test matches 2010 (top 5): Player Mat WktsAve A Mendis 5 17 38.23 S Randiv 3 14 40.50 L Malinga 2 10 27.30 M Muralitharan 1 8 23.87 R Herath 3 8 31.50 Most wickets for Sri Lanka in Twenty20 Internationals 2010 (top 5): Player Mat Wkts Ave L Malinga 9 11 20.72 A Mendis 7 8 20.62 S Randiv 6 7 16.42 A Mathews 9 6 20.33 N Kulasekara 3 5 10.60 Most runs for Sri Lanka in Test matches 2010 (top 5): Player Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave K Sangakkara 6 9 2 695 219 99.28 T Samaraweera 6 8 4 457 137* 114.25 T Paranavitana 6 10 2 433 111 54.12 M Jayawardene 6 8 0 407 174 50.87 T Dilshan 6 10 1 299 68* 33.22 Most runs for Sri Lanka in Twenty20 Internationals 2010 (top 5): Player Mat Inns NO Runs HS e M Jayawardene 9 9 1 343 100 42.87 K Sangakkara 9 9 1 205 68 25.62 T Dilshan 9 9 2 151 41 21.57 A Mathews 9 7 1 146 58 24.33 C Kapugedera 9 7 1 102 37* 17.00 Most runs for Sri Lanka in one day internationals 2010 (top 5) Player Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave T Dilshan 20 20 2 921 110 51.16 K Sangakkara 17 17 2 726 74 48.40 U Tharanga 22 22 3 707 118* 37.21 M Jayawardene 15 15 3 509 108 42.41 T Samaraweera 13 10 4 296 105* 49.33 Most wickets for Sri Lanka in one day internationals 2010 (top 5): Player Mat Wkts Ave T Perera 13 22 18.90 L Malinga 11 18 20.50 N Kulasekara 17 18 33.55 S Randiv 17 17 35.05 A Mathews 14 10 24.10
Muralitharan retired from the longer version of the game as the first and only player to claim 50 or more wickets against every Test playing nation. He has taken 10 wickets in an innings against the most countries.
Muralitharan is one of the few bowlers in the world to reach 1000 first class wickets and is the only player to take 10 wickets in a Test match in four consecutive matches twice.
Muralitharan who is also the highest wicket-taker in the shorter version of the game is the proud holder of two individual World records on the cricket field, a feat that will not be matched by anyone for quite some time.
The absence of ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was badly felt thereafter as Sri Lanka struggled somewhat to dismiss their opponents twice. In fact after their huge victory in the opening Test match in Galle Sri Lanka lost their way and conceded the third and final Test match to draw the series one all.
Sri Lanka’s other home Test series was against the West Indies which was badly affected due to the inclement weather situation in the country recently. However Sri Lanka struggled to hold the visitors to a draw in the opening match at the Galle Stadium. The Lankans then bounced back to take the honours in the drawn second Test through a majestic 150 from their captain Kumar Sangakkara at the R. Premadasa International Stadium.
The third and final Test of course was severely affected by rain with only one innings being completed. The only bright spot for the home side was the penetrative bowling of left arm spinner Rangana Herath and the pace blitz of Suranga Lakmal who had the credit of claiming a wicket in the very first ball of the match.