Sri Lankan spinner, Rangana Herath, ensured a 75 run, first Test victory at Galle for his team, after taking 12 wickets.
Herath, who was named the Man of the Match for his outstanding bowling throughout the match, completely bamboozled the England batsmen with his variation, resulting in the fourth straight Test loss for the visitors.
Herath, was very pleased to play a key role in beating the world number one Test team, and said: “First I got 12 wickets for the first time in my career and it was really nice to be able to contribute to the defeat of the world’s No1 ranking team.”
Sri Lanka Captain, Mahela Jayawardene, won the toss and elected to bat first, much to the delight of the Sri Lankan fans.
Strauss, was telling his bowlers that they needed to make an early breakthrough in order to put the hosts on the back foot.
His plan worked immediately, when Lahiru Thirimanne, edged one to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, in the third over of the match.
Sri Lanka, were dealt another major blow the very next delivery, when, Kumar Sangakkara, could not resist at playing the ball outside his off stump, and was easily caught behind by Prior.
With Sri Lanka reeling, Strauss, kept encouraging his team to keep the pressure on, and, this resulted in yet another wicket, as Tillakaratne Dilshan, attemped a shot with no footwork whatsoever, and only succeeded in getting a thick edge straight to Strauss at first slip.
With the scoreboard stuck on 15 runs, and three of Sri Lanka’s best batsmen back in the pavilion, Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, started to work together on repairing the early damage that England had done.
The pair, started to slowly and steadily move the scoreboard along, taking singles and sharing the strike, which helped both batsmen get settled at the crease.
As the runs continued to flow, Strauss, tried to encourage his bowlers to break the partnership, before it started to get out of hand.
However, it was only after Jayawardene and Samaraweera, had just passed the half century mark in their partnership, that Strauss got the wicket of Samaraweera on 20, after he was run out at the non-striker’s end, when James Anderson got his hand on a drive from Jayawardene which hit the stumps, leaving Samaraweera looking on in total despair as he walked back to the pavilion.
With the 52 run partnership that the pair had put together brought to an end, Jayawardene, had a long talk with Dinesh Chandimal to make sure he played sensible shots and did not take any risks.
Together, Chandimal and Jayawardene, continued to put a spark back into the Sri Lankan innings, with some sensible running, and taking advantage of any poor deliveries, which they dispatched to the boundary with pure elegance.
Jayawardene, soon brought up his half century, which was highly appreciated by the Sri Lankan fans, after the collapse of the top order batsmen.
However, just like the previous partnership, once Jayawardene and Chandimal passed the half century mark, England struck with another wicket, as Chandimal tried to play across the line and got a top edge, which landed safely in the hands of Ian Bell at cover, giving Samit Patel his first Test wicket.
The pair had put together a 61 run partnership, before Chandimal, threw his wicket away.
Mahela Jaywardene was joined by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, and the pair started to build on yet another successful partnership.
However, they fell short of the half century mark this time, when Prasanna Jayawardene, was given out lbw from a ball that swung back a mile, trapping him in front of the stumps.
Prasanna Jayawardene, reviewed the decision, since he and Jayawardene, was Sri Lanka’s last batting pair, but, it was not to be, as the review showed that the umpire’s decision was right, forcing Jayawardene to walk back to the pavilion after scoring 23 runs, and ending the partnership on 42 runs.
Suraj Randiv, did not last long at the crease, due to an amazing piece of fielding by England Captain Andrew Strauss, who caught him napping at the non-striker’s end, and ran him out on 12, while Mahela Jayawardene, could only look on in frustration.
However, after Randiv departed, Jayawardene, started to go on an absolute rampage against the England bowling attack, as he dominated the partnership he had with Rangana Herath.
Jayawardene, soon reached his 30th Test century, sparking a massive roar from the crowd, who appreciated the fight their Captain was showing.
In the 62 run partnership the pair put together, Jayawardene scored 53 runs, and kept most of the strike, since he knew that his list of batting partners was starting to run low.
However, once the partnership hit 62 runs, Herath was given out lbw, and upon looking at the review, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Herath was out.
Jayawardene, however, refused to give up his resistance, even though he was starting to run low on the number of batting partners he had.
He also dominated the next partnership with Chanaka Welegedara, as he wanted to post as high of a score as possible against England, in order to have a chance of beating them in the test match.
Early into the partnership, Jayawardene, brought up his 150, which even the England players had to applaud, as they knew it had been a gutsy innings by the Sri Lankan Captain.
Jayawardene and Welegedara, played well together, as their partnership hit the half century mark.
However, England struck again, this time, removing Welegedara, who was clean bowled between bat and pad by James Anderson.
With the pair’s 54 run partnership brought to an end, Jayawardene, yet again dominated the final partnership of the match, as he scored all 11 runs in the partnership, before getting a thick edge on one of Anderson’s deliveries, which ended his brilliant innings on 180, while Sri Lanka had managed to make 318, before being all out.
Anderson, was the star of the England bowling attack, taking a five wicket haul, while Samit Patel picked up two wickets and Stuart Broad, chipped in with one as well.
England’s reply to Sri Lanka’s 318, could not have started any worse, as Alastair Cook was given out lbw on the 11th ball of the innings, and decided not to review the umpire’s decision, leaving him to walk back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers.
Captain Andrew Strauss was joined at the crease by Jonathan Trott, and together, the pair started to repair the early damage Sri Lanka had done.
But, when their partnership was on 40 runs, Trott, was completely fooled by a half-volley that turned away from his bat, and was stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene on 12.
To make matters worse, Trott, when trying to get back in his crease, ran right into the gloves of Jayawardene, which knocked him down to the floor for a couple of minutes, before, he was able to walk off on his own two feet.
Sri Lanka, struck again almost immediately, as Strauss, was given out lbw after a review was called for by Mahela Jayawardene, when umpire Asad Rauf gave Strauss not out, however, Strauss did not seem too happy with the amount of time Jayawardene had taken to decide whether he wanted to review the decision or not.
Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen, could only manage to add 22 runs, before, Pietersen, got a inside edge off the bowling of Welegedara, that knocked back his off stump, ending his short stay at the crease on three.
England’s nightmare continued, as Matt Prior, was the next victim of the Sri Lanka bowling attack, when he was given out lbw on seven, and even after reviewing the decision, it was still as plumb as you could get.
The England collapse continued on, when Samit Patel was plumb lbw on two runs, which started to put a worried look on Captain Andrew Strauss’s face.
Stuart Broad, played a very quick innings of 28 from 15 balls, which included five boundaries and one massive six, before being given out lbw himself, prompting an immediate referral from him, which went in favour of the umpire’s original decision, meaning that Broad, had to walk back after his entertaining innings.
With the collapse of the England batting lineup, Ian Bell, was the only middle order batsman left, and he put on a 35 run partnership with Graeme Swann, in which he brought up an excellent half century, before, Swann was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan at short midwicket, ending his innings on 24, in which all of his runs had come in boundaries.
Bell, soon departed himself on 52, after getting an absolute peach of a delivery from Herath, that removed his off bail.
However, Monty Panesar and James Anderson produced England’s second-highest partnership of the innings, when they added 36 runs to the England total, before, Panesar, was given out lbw, bringing an end to a dismal innings of 193 by the England batting lineup.
Rangana Herath, was all over the England batsmen, as he took six wickets, and Suraj Randiv picked up two, while Chanaka Welegedara and Suranga Lakmal, chipped in with one each.
With a lead of 125 runs in hand, Sri Lanka, were looking to build on it as much as they could, in order to improve their chances of beating England.
However, their second innings started in horrendous fashion, as Dilshan, was removed by Stuart Broad once again, after he was bowled, when the ball ricocheted off his pad and into the stumps.
Lahiru Thrimanne, departed almost immediately afterwards, as he was bowled all round by a beaut of a delivery from Graeme Swann, which pitched on middle and leg, but, ended up hitting the off stump.
To make matters worse, Mahela Jayawardene, after making 180 in the first innings, was removed on five, after misjudging a delivery from Swann, which ended up in the hands of James Anderson at first slip.
Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera, could only add 27 runs between them, before, Sangakkara, was fooled by a delivery from Swann yet again, but, only this time, it was taken by Ian Bell at gully.
Samaraweera and Chandimal, started to put together, what was looking like a solid partnership, but, 31 runs into it, Samaraweera, was stumped by Matt Prior, giving Swann another wicket.
Chandimal and Randiv, worked together to get another partnership going, which started to really frustrate the England Captain, Andrew Strauss, as he knew his team were already in a bad position.
However, as the partnership was creeping towards the half century mark, Chandimal, tried to lift one over the infield, which only ended up going straight into the hands of Pietersen at mid-off, ending Chandimal’s innings on 31, and the partnership on 42.
Suraj Randiv, did not last long after Chandimal departed, as he was given out lbw by umpire Asad Rauf, and even with the review, Rauf’s decision was still upheld, forcing Randiv to make his way back to the pavilion.
With the Sri Lanka batting lineup facing the same collapse the England one did, Prasanna Jayawardene, started to get into the act of things, and slowly built up his innings.
His partnership with Herath did not last long, after Herath, was comprehensively bowled by Swann for seven.
Jayawardene and Welegedara, put together a handy 40 run partnership, when, Welegedara was well caught by Strauss off the bowling of Monty Panesar.
Welegedara, now knowing that he and Suranga Lakmal, were the last pair left in the Sri Lankan innings, started to attack the England bowling attack, while Lakmal, was happy just to nudge the ball around and work the singles.
Jayawardene, soon reached his half century, which was highly appreciated by his teammates and the fans, given the current situation Sri Lanka were in.
However, just as the partnership was within striking distance of the half century mark, Lakmal, was run out after attempting a second run, ending his innings on 13, and the partnership on 47, while Jayawardene, remained unbeaten on 61.
Graeme Swann was responsible for the Sri Lanka batting collapse, as he took six wickets, and, was well supported by Monty Panesar who had two, while Broad picked up one.
England, set a target of 340 runs to win the first Test, did not get off to as good of a start as they would have wanted, since opener, Alastair Cook, was dismissed after a catch was reviewed successfully by Mahela Jayawardene, which sent Cook on his way.
England were dealt another major blow, as Captain, Andrew Strauss, got a thick inside edge, which was brilliantly caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan at midwicket off the bowling of Rangana Herath.
Just as England were looking on the verge of yet another collapse, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, steadied things out.
Trott and Pietersen, played sensible shots in the gaps, to keep the runs flowing, while also taking advantage of any short pitched deliveries, which they dispatched to the boundary with pure confidence.
As the pair continued to rotate the strike and get themselves settled at the crease, Sri Lanka Captain, Mahela Jayawardene, was trying to trouble the batsmen by introducing different bowling options, but, nothing seemed to work.
Soon, the pair had carried the partnership past the half century mark, and things were starting to look very promising for England.
However, just as the partnership had pushed into the seventies region, Pietersen, may have lost his concentration as he tried to hammer a delivery over the top, but ended up getting caught by Mahela Jayawardene at short midwicket, bringing an end to Pietersen’s innings of 30, and the 70 run partnership as well.
Meanwhile, Trott was starting to look in top form, as he brought up his half century during his partnership with Ian Bell.
However, just like in the first innings, the partnership was ended early, before it could get out of hand, as Bell, was given out lbw by umpire Rod Tucker. However, even after reviewing the decision, the ball was seen to be clipping the off stump, thus meaning that umpire Tucker’s decision was final.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior, joined Trott at the crease, and together, the pair, started to trouble the Sri Lankan bowlers, which came as a surprise to most fans, since it had been the other way for pretty much the entire Test match.
Together, the pair, started to time the ball perfectly, and showed some perfect stroke play, which helped England edge nearer to their target of 340.
The pair, soon went past the half century mark, and continued to look strong after passing it as well.
Trott, soon got to his seventh Test century, which was given a nice round of applause by everyone in the ground.
Mahela Jayawardene, started to look extremely worried with the increasing value of the partnership, and thought it was time to bring Sri Lanka’s secret weapon into attack.
His secret weapon, who was Rangana Herath, provided the breakthrough the team so desperately needed, when Prior, attempted a sweep shot, and was caught at short leg, falling nine short of his half century, while the partnership was also ended on 81 runs.
With Trott still left standing at the crease, he and Samit Patel did not last long together, as Patel, was caught at cover by Dilshan, which gave Herath yet another wicket.
Trott, was soon dismissed himself, as he tried to work one off his legs, but, only succeeded in giving a catch straight to Dilshan at leg slip, which brought an end to his outstanding innings of 112.
With Trott now back in the pavilion, England, looked as if they were going to need a miracle to win this match.
However, no miracle came, but, the quick fall of the lower order batsmen did.
Graeme Swann was yet another victim of Herath, after he was given out lbw, even after reviewing the original decision by the umpire.
Suraj Randiv provided the next wicket for Sri Lanka, as James Anderson was caught behind, leaving Stuart Broad, to watch in absolute disbelief of what was happening.
One delivery later, it was all over, as Randiv got the wicket of Panesar, who was caught in the gully, handing Sri Lanka a 75 run victory.
The two spinners took all the wickets for Sri Lanka, with Rangana Herath claiming six again, and Suraj Randiv picking up the remaining four, including the prize wicket of Trott.
England Captain, Andrew Strauss, was extremely disappointed with the team’s performance throughout the match, and said: “In truth we made too many mistakes to win the game, ye left ourselves too much to do, mainly with our batting in the first innings. In international cricket there’s no room for mistakes. We had a great position in the first innings to go big but we all felt too softly. We probably didn’t get the balance between attack and defence right. It’s frustrating cause I feel like I’m playing well.”
Sri Lanka Captain, Mahela Jayawardene, was all smiles as he felt great to be back on the winning side. “It’s been a tough period for us to get things right but the boys worked really hard to improve as a team and today we showed a lot of character. We just had to hang in there for a while. With 340 on the board the bowlers were much more relaxed. Rangana Hearth has been around a long time and Suraj Randiv is settling into his groove now and can become a good bowler for us” he said.
With Sri Lanka taking a 1-0 lead in the Test series, England, have to win the next Test, which is scheduled to begin on the 3rd of April at Colombo, to have any chance of ending the two match series as a draw, and more importantly, retaining their number one world Test team ranking.