Lanka script stunning win

Lanka script stunning win

Cricket First Test : Herath shines in first victory over Australia in 17 years

Lanka script stunning win

Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath backed up centurion Kusal Mendis’ superlative effort to stun top-ranked Australia by 106 runs in the rain-affected first Test here on Saturday.

Herath, 38, grabbed 5/54 to help the hosts bundle out Australia for 161 on the fifth and final day after they were set a challenging target of 268.

Australian skipper Steven Smith posted a gritty half-century before Steve O’Keefe and Peter Nevill frustrated Sri Lanka with a four-run partnership of 178-balls.

Herath bagged the last Australian wicket by cleaning up O’Keefe to trigger wild celebrations in the Lankan camp. This was Sri Lanka’s only second Test win against Australia in 27 matches.

It was batsman Mendis (176) who set up the unlikely win for Sri Lanka with his superb maiden ton in his team’s second innings after the hosts overcame an 86-run deficit.

The 21-year-old Mendis, the only centurion in the low-scoring contest, played a memorable 254-ball knock laced with 21 fours and a six.

“Special knock by a special young player. Fantastic effort,” an elated Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews said at the post-match presentation.

For Lankan spinners it was a race against time as rain threatened to thwart their chances of upsetting firm favourites Australia but Herath had other ideas in mind.

The left-arm spinner, who grabbed four wickets in the first innings, made life miserable for the Australian batsmen on a turning track on the fifth morning.

Smith, whose 55 was the next best after Mendis’ century, was trapped leg before wicket by Herath as Australia slipped to 141 for seven at lunch.

Debutant Lakshan Sandakan, who bagged seven wickets in the match, provided the perfect foil to Herath’s experience.

“The old man Herath was brilliant once again. Sandakan is a brilliant find for us. We knew that the wicket was going to take turn and Sandakan responded brilliantly,” said Mathews.

O’Keefe, who was ruled out of the remainder of the series after injuring his hamstring on Thursday, surprised the opposition by turning up at the crease Saturday.

O’Keefe and Nevill resisted stoutly with one eye on the skies but could only delay the inevitable. “Tough week, credit to Sri Lanka for the way they played. We let ourselves down with the bat. We weren’t disciplined with the bat. Credit to Kusal, his 176 turned the game,” said Smith.

“Anything above 260 on this wicket was always going to be difficult. It’s tough to lose O’Keefe but that’s cricket. We have got to find our plans and find ways to play in these conditions.”

Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0 as the action shifts to Galle for the second Test beginning from August 4.

Scoreboard

SRI LANKA (I Innings): 117                                   
AUSTRALIA (I Innings): 203
SRI LANKA (II Innings): 353    
AUSTRALIA (II Innings; O/n: 83/3):
Burns b Sandakan    29
Warner b Herath    1
Khawaja lbw D Perera    18
Smith lbw Herath    55
Voges c&b Herath    12
Marsh lbw Herath    25
Nevill c Chandimal b de Silva    9
Starc c&b Sandakan    0
Lyon lbw Sandakan    8
O'Keefe b Herath    4
Hazlewood (not out)    0
Total (all out, 88.3 overs)    161
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-33, 3-63, 4-96, 5-139, 6-140, 7-141, 8-157, 9-161.
Bowling: Pradeep 6-3-16-0, Herath 33.3-16-54-5, D Perera 13-3-30-1, Sandakan 25-8-49-3, de Silva 11-7-12-1.

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