Muttiah Muralitharan, the off-spinner, ripped apart India’s famed batting line-up
On October 27, 2000, in a Coca-Cola cup match in Sharjah Muttiah Muralitharan bamboozled India by taking 7 wickets in his 10 overs conceding just 30 runs. Sri Lanka was forced to reckon with in the mid-1990’s and early years of 21st century.
It was the dress rehearsal for the final. Muralitharan notched up best ever ODI figures breaking the previous record by Aaqib Javed of Pakistan held for nine years also against India at Sharjah.
In the match, Sri Lanka scored 294 for 5 with the help of Marvan Atapattu Mahela and Jawaywerden’s hundreds. Ajit Agarkar took three wickets for India, the remaining two wickets were run out. Jayasuriya failed, but it hardly mattered for Sri Lanka as middle order batsman piled up the hefty total for India to try and chase.
When India came to chase the total, opener Sourav Ganguly lost his wicket on the fourth ball of the Chaminda Vaas’ first over. Sachin Tendulkar scored a breezy 61 off 54 balls, the highest by an Indian batsman in the match. But from the other end, Muralitharan started cleaning up the Indian middle order and tail. Indian batsmen were clueless to Murali’s whirling spin, as a result, Indian top and middle order were cleaned up inside 120 in 26th over.
The only resistance which came from Sachin Tendulkar was also ended by Muralitharan. Hemang Badani (47) and Vijay Dahiya’s (40) 77 runs partnership gave India a hope to salvage the shrinking ship. But both of them were the victim of Muralitharan.
The offspinner got good assistance from pacers Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa. While Vaas took two wickets Zoysa did not get any wicket but kept the pressure on Indian batsmen from the other end along with Vaas. Two other spinners Russel Arnold and Sanath Jayasuriya rolling their hand also created a problem for India.
Murali’s first victim, Robin Singh, was his 200th wicket in limited-overs games for Sri Lanka. When Sri Lanka were put into bat, Jayasuriya’s first failure in that week hardly mattered as Atapattu and Jayawardene ran up 226 in 36 overs, a Sri Lankan third-wicket record, on what seemed a batsman’s pitch.
The result of the match tore India’s confidence as they suffered a largest ever humiliation in the final. Sri Lanka scored 299 India lost the match by 245 runs.
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