Sri Lanka Test puts India’s batting pride at stake in Murali’s den

GALLE, July 29, 2008 (AFP) – India’s batting reputation will be at stake when they attempt to solve Sri Lanka’s spin puzzle in the second Test starting here on Thursday. The tourists collapsed twice in the opening match of the three-Test series in Colombo, losing by an innings and 239 runs on Saturday.

Sri Lankan spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mandis did the damage, sharing 19 wickets.

Muralithan’s wizardry has always shone especially bright at the Galle International Stadium, where he has taken 91 of his world-record 746 wickets in 12 Tests.

This time out there will be no respite for the visitors as he has found an able partner in Mendis, an unorthodox spinner.

Mendis made an impressive debut in Colombo, grabbing eight wickets, and the pair is expected to make merry again.

“The pitch here is basically spin-friendly,” said curator and former Sri Lankan bowler Jayananda Warnaweera.

“Murali has always bowled well here and I think Mendis will also succeed because he has variations. It has always been a lucky ground for Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka have lost just one of their last nine Tests at Galle since July 2000, the lone defeat co