GALLE: Rangana Herath grabbed 6 for 48 as Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by seven wickets on a remarkable last day of the first Test on Sunday. The left-arm spinner turned the game on its head when Pakistan, who trailed by 82 after the first innings, were bowled out for 180. Sri Lanka then needed 99 runs in a minimum 21 overs with dark clouds hovering over Galle International Stadium. Captain Angelo Mathews (25 not out) showed urgency by hitting two sixes and two fours as Sri Lanka reached 99-3 in 16.2 overs - just in time before the rain arrived. Mahela Jayawardene, playing in his penultimate Test, set the tempo with a quick 26 as an opener before Mathews took charge under bad light. “It was one of the best games I have played and Herath was unbelievable,” Mathews said. “What an unbelievable player Mahela is, hopefully we can win the next game as well.” It was Pakistan’s fourth loss in a Test match after scoring more than 450 runs in the first innings.
The visitors will look to spoil Jayawardene’s farewell Test in his hometown Colombo when the second Test begins on Thursday. Kumar Sangakkara’s 10th double century (221) helped Sri Lanka respond solidly by declaring at 533-9 after Younis Khan hit a brilliant 177 in Pakistan’s first innings total of 451. But Pakistan’s batsmen paid a heavy price of protecting their wickets instead of scoring runs after resuming the day at 4-1 as Herath got rid of the top order before mopping up the tail just after tea.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed top scored with an unbeaten 52 before he ran out of partners. “Credit should be given to Herath, he knew these conditions very well, especially in Galle where he’s been so successful,” Pakistan captain Misbah said. “I think we got under pressure the way Sri Lankan bowlers bowled ... we have to improve our batting.” Herath ravaged Pakistan’s innings by removing Azhar Ali (41), Younis Khan (13) and Asad Shafiq (8) while offspinner Dilruwan Perera got rid of dangerman Misbah (28) and Ahmed Shehzad (16).
Pakistan showed no urgency and looked for a draw as it lost three wickets in the morning session while adding 62 runs. Misbah and Ali defied Sri Lanka briefly with a 56-run stand but not before the Pakistan captain twice survived lbw appeals. He was ruled out leg before wicket off Perera on 8 but successfully overturned umpire Bruce Oxenford’s decision as the ball had brushed his gloves off a mistimed sweep. Misbah wiped out the deficit by hoisting the offspinner to midwicket for a six before reverse sweeping the offspinner for another boundary. He was on 26 when Eranga went for the DRS but his high full toss hit Misbah’s pads outside the line of leg stump.
However, both batsmen departed within three deliveries when Herath found Ali’s outside edge and Misbah was trapped lbw off the backfoot. Herath trapped Shafiq lbw off an arm ball before Eranga picked up his 50th test wicket when he had Abdul Rehman caught behind to reduce Pakistan to 153-8 at tea.
Earlier, Pakistan scored only four boundaries in the morning session after nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal (4) was caught behind off Dhammika Prasad in the eighth over of the day. Khan overtook Sachin Tendulkar (1,995) as the highest Test run scorer against Sri Lanka when he straight drove Eranga for his second four before he was undone by Herath’s magnificent delivery that hit the top of off stump. Shehzad could have overturned English umpire Ian Gould’s lbw decision against him off Perera, but didn’t use the DRS and walked off after scoring a painstaking 16 off 74 balls.
It is all very well to try and tell yourself captaining your country in an ICC Cricket World Cup is ...