Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath stole the spotlight on the fourth day of the first Test in Galle as he ripped through India’s batting line-up with seven wickets to carry his side to an astonishing 63-run win.
With India needing just 153 runs to win the match and having nine wickets in hand at the start of the day, Herath set about working his magic and bamboozling the Indian batsmen over and over again.
Unfortunately for India, they were unable to find any answer on how to counter-attack Herath’s bowling and they subsequently started falling one after another.
Batsman Ajinkya Rahane managed to keep Sri Lanka at bay for quite a while with his knock of 36 before he eventually succumbed to the pressure and Herath’s bowling as he was caught by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews at slip.
Rahane was India’s last lifeline and once he was dismissed, it was game over for the tourists as Herath’s partner in crime Tharindu Kaushal finished things off by dismissing Amit Mishra for 15.
All in all, Rahane and opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan were the only two batsmen to surpass the 20-run mark. After them, the next highest scorer was Mishra. As a result of this, India were left looking embarrassed and humiliated as they were skittled out for 112.
Herath was easily the pick of the bowlers with seven wickets, while Kaushal claimed three.
India captain Virat Kohli admitted that his side were outplayed and could only blame themselves for the loss.
“We got no one to blame but ourselves,” he said. “Credit to Angelo and his team. We failed to capitalise after taking the first five wickets (in the second innings), we should have finished the game in that session, one bad session and the game can turn, that is how Test cricket is. Rangana Herath is an outstanding bowler, he put our batsmen under pressure.
“It (the pitch) behaved strangely, it looked hard on the first morning. Angelo chose to bat. It started spinning, in our first innings it played nicely, we got a good total. We thought it would get more difficult , the way Dinesh and the others batted, they kept Sri Lanka in the hunt.”
Mathews was ecstatic to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “What a turnaround. I am speechless, Great effort. Was a poor batting performance in the first innings, but we came back. Chandimal was outstanding, he single-handedly got us to a fighting score. The wicket was pretty demanding, we were down and out for three and a half days. We have good quality spinners, just go out there and try to be positive, bowl in good areas. They had three spinners and the wicket was turning quite a lot. We had to play positively, we had to play our shots, sweeps, reverse sweeps.”
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal was named Man of the Match for scoring a career-best 162 not out in the second innings, and said: “It was not an easy wicket to bat on. I tried reverse-sweeps and sweeps. I thought I could put some pressure on the bowlers. I tried to rotate the strike. Credit goes to Sangakkara, Mathews, Thirimanne and Mubarak as well. They batted well. I thought 175-plus might be a good total. (Herath) is outstanding. We all know he is a legend.”