Murali surpasses 400 wickets

Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan surpassed 400 wickets in one-day internationals Tuesday but couldn't prevent South Africa from beating Sri Lanka by nine runs to keep alive its chances of winning cricket's limited-overs tri-series. Opener Boeta Dippenaar carried his bat for 125 to anchor South Africa's innings of 263 for five and Sri Lanka were 254-8 when their overs dwindled away, with Tillakaratne Dilshan on strike and stranded on 83.

The win compacted standings at the midpoint of the three-nation series, leaving Australia in the lead with 10 points, Sri Lanka with nine and South Africa, back in the hunt, with eight. Sri Lanka plays Australia in the next match on Thursday.

Murali took two wickets within two balls in his opening over Tuesday to pass 400 wickets in his 263rd limited-overs match, setting that mark alongside his 584 wickets in tests.

He became only the third player after the Pakistan pace duo of Wasim Akram (502) and Waqar Younis (416) to reach 400 wickets in limited overs games, on the ground on which he was called for throwing by umpire Ross Emerson in 1999.

Dippenaar reached his highest one-day score, carrying his bat through a 50-overs innings for the second time in his one-day career and becoming the second South African after Gary Kirsten to do so more than once.

His innings and Herschelle Gibb's 68 allowed South Africa to reach a competitive total after Sri Lanka shackled their scoring through the early part of their innings. South Africa went 23 overs, between the 13th and 36th overs, without hitting a boundary but Dippenaar's steady accumulation and Gibbs' sprightly innings of 65 balls lifted their run rate.

Sri Lanka's innings was the reverse of South Africa's. They started at a steady pace with Sanath Jayasuriya making 37 from 30 balls and Kumar Sangakkara 23 from 31 in a partnership of 57 for the second wicket.

Marvan Atapattu (23) and Mahela Jayawardene, who hit form with a run-a-ball 52, built innings around Dilshan's foundation and kept Sri Lanka scoring at a winning run-rate.

But Andrew Hall and Johan van der Wath took vital wickets late in the innings, breaking key partnerships, and Sri Lanka's run rate dried up. Hall, particularly, bowled the dangerous Russel Arnold and ran out Malinga Bandara in the 48th over to make Sri Lanka's task more difficult, reports the AP. N.U.