On the 3rd of December 2007, Sri Lanka hosted England at Asgiriya for the 1st Test Match. This test match was remarkable since the Sri Lankan bowling spearhead Muttiah Muralitharan was able to achieve the world record of being the highest Test Wicket Taker (covered in the 1st Edition). Apart from that, the game was remembered by many due to numerous reasons. Following are few key highlights of the game.
Sri Lanka’s tireless workhorse Chaminda Vaas’s 100th Test Match
The match at Kandy also turned out to be Sri Lanka’s tireless workhorse, Chaminda Vaas‘s 100th Test Match.
Vass was the third Sri Lankan to cross the 100th Test Match mark after Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya.
At the other end of the spectrum, Vaas slipped under the radar in his 100th Test. The tireless workhorse though, made his presence felt by clinching five pivotal wickets in the game.
Sanath Jayasuriya bidding farewell to Test Cricket in his own style
The dashing Sri Lankan all-rounder announced his retirement from the national duties after serving the nation for 110 Test Matches, where he scored 8000 runs and clinched 98 wickets.
Jayasuriya came out all-guns-blazing in the second innings of his last Test to essay an astonishing knock of 78.
It included him smashing James Anderson all around the ground for six boundaries in a single over. With Anderson pitching the ball up every time, on a wicket that was flat, shots rumbled through the willow of Jayasuriya. The ball kept rushing to the boundary ropes with lightning speed. Which eventually made Jayasuriya only the 3rd batsman to reach this milestone in Test Match cricket after the batting sensations from West Indies, Chris Gayle, and Ramesh Sarwan.
Sri Lanka Winning the Test Match by 88 Runs
The Test Match turned out to be a thriller contest. Matt Prior and Ian Bell played with determination, which seemed to have taken England to safe waters on the last day of the match.
Suddenly, England harboured hopes of escaping from the defeat like they did in 2003 at Asgiriya. Unfortunately for England, and fortunately for Sri Lanka a clatter of wickets right at the end of the day’s play saw them drowning towards a defeat.
The Sri Lankan bowling spearhead, Muralitharan, yet again provided the crucial breakthrough by taking the key wickets of both Bell and Prior. The Doosra he bowled to dismiss Prior would be remembered for years by cricket fans.
Lasith Malinga had the last laugh when he dismissed Mathew Hogard with his trademark Yorker. England was all out for 261 and Sri Lanka won the match by 88 Runs.
Kumar Sangakkara’s Match winning performance with the bat
Kumar Sangakkara‘s 92 anchored the Sri Lankan first inning, and in the 2 innings Sangakkara scored his 16th test match 100, with that century he was able to score centuries against all Test-playing Nations, he was only the 9th batsman in Test Match Cricket history of 130 years (by 2007) to reach this milestone.
Kumar Sangakkara went to on to score 152, which also made him the first batsman in the World to score 150 plus scores in every 4 consecutive Tests. These stellar performances guided him to be awarded as the Man of the Match.
The Last International Match at Asgiriya
Above all it was the last International Encounter at Asgiriya, Sri Lanka’s 2nd International Test Ground. The scenic and serene ground at Kandy had hosted 27 International Encounters since 1983. In fact, it eventually turned out to be the farewell game not only for Jayasuriya but also for Asgiriya as well.
Even though the match was jam-packed with records, history, joy, and victory there were two unfavourable incidents to blight the game. One, the play was stopped due to a swarm of bees invading the pitch in Sri Lanka’s 2 innings, which forced the players to the floor until the bees got away from the ground. Two, the collapse of the iron roof on the Singer Stand on the last day, which ended up injuring four spectators.
Sanath Jayasuriya smashing James Anderson all around the ground for six boundaries in a single over.
Sri Lanka vs England Match Highlights, at Asgiriya International Cricket Stadium, 2007.
Anon, 2007. Murali rallies Sri Lanka to win over England. Reuters. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-30839520071205 [Accessed September 4, 2021].
Anon, Asgiriya stadium. Cricinfo. Available at: https://www.espncricinfo.com/srilanka/content/ground/59329.html [Accessed September 5, 2021].