Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath ripped thorough Pakistan’s batting line-up with a six-wicket haul to lead his side to a seven-wicket win on the fifth day of the first Test in Galle.
Even though Herath stole the spotlight with his brilliant bowling, Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed deserves some credit as he scored an unbeaten half-century.
Starting out the day on 4/1, Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad and nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal only added seven runs to their one-run partnership before Ajmal was caught behind off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad for four runs.
Shehzad went on to score 16 runs before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Dilruwan Perera.
Funnily enough, if Shehzad had reviewed the decision, it would have been overturned since replays showed that the ball was going on to miss the leg stump.
Younis Khan only made 13 runs before he was clean bowled by Herath.
Azhar Ali and Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq stabilised the innings with a 56-run partnership before Ali was caught behind off the bowling of Herath for 41 runs.
Ul-Haq ended up making 28 before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Perera.
Ul-Haq decided to review the decision straight away, but replays showed that the ball was going on to crash into leg stump, which led to the third umpire upholding the original decision.
Asad Shafiq scored eight runs before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Herath.
Shafiq was given not out initially, but Sri Lanka decided to review the decision and replays confirmed that the ball was going on to hit leg stump. This led to the third umpire overturning the original decision.
Abdur Rehman failed to have an impact with the bat as he was caught behind off the bowling of Shaminda Eranga for one run.
Mohammad Talha fared no better as he was caught behind to give Herath his 19th five-wicket haul.
Junaid Khan failed to trouble the scorers as he was given out lbw off the bowling of Herath for a duck.
Khan reviewed the decision immediately since he was the last man, but replays showed that the ball was hitting leg stump, which led to the third umpire upholding the original decision.
Ahmed was left stranded on 52 off 70 balls, which included five boundaries.
Herath was easily the pick of the bowlers with six wickets, while Perera snapped up two and Eranga and Prasad chipped in with one wicket apiece as Pakistan were bowled out for 180, which set Sri Lanka a target of 99 runs to win.
Chasing 99 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a poor start as opening batsman Upul Tharanga was clean bowled by Khan for 12 runs.
Mahela Jayawardene managed to make 26 runs before he was also cleaned up by Khan.
Kumar Sangakkara accumulated 21 runs before he was caught by Khurram Manzoor at long-off off the bowling of Talha.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage finished things off to lead the hosts to a comfortable seven-wicket win.
Khan was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Talha claimed one.
Ul-Haq was disappointed to have lost the match, and said: “Tough one. The dropped catches cost us, especially that of Sangakkara. Second innings batting could have been better. The better team won. SL were at the top of their game. Our first innings performance was good, especially after losing three early wickets. Ajmal was also a positive sign, Junaid too. We need to forgot these sort of games. Sangakkara really put the pressure back on us.”
Mathews was ecstatic to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “It was one of the best games I have taken part in. Herath was unbelievable. It went down to the wire in the last five games and we never gave up till the end. What an unbelievable player Mahela is, hopefully we can win the next game as well. I was praying for a bit of sunshine and we got through at the right time.”
Herath was named Man of the Match, and said: “It was a batsman-friendly pitch and we bowled in the right areas. We played very well. As a spinner on the 4th and 5th day I knew there would be something. Congrats to Mahela and this is the best gift for retirement.”