Sri Lanka vs Australia 1st Test Day 5: Herath spins Sri Lanka to historic win

Herath finished with figures of 5-54 off 33.3 overs

Herath finished with figures of 5-54 off 33.3 overs

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Rangana Herath stole the spotlight on the final day of the first Test in Pallekele as he carved through Australia’s batting line-up to not only lead Sri Lanka to a historic 106-run win, but also hand Steven Smith his first Test loss as captain.

Prior to their victory on Saturday, Sri Lanka had only beaten the Baggy Greens once in Test history, which came all the way back on September 11, 1999.

Starting out the day on 83/3, Australia lost Adam Voges to Herath for 12, and just when they seemed to be rebuilding their innings, Mitchell Marsh was trapped lbw off the bowling of Herath for 25.

Smith scored a valiant 55, which came off 125 balls and included one boundary, before he too was given out lbw off the bowling of Herath.

Smith scored his 17th Test fifty

Smith scored his 17th Test fifty

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

After the damage Herath inflicted, debutant Lakshan Sandakan stepped up and removed Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon for a duck and eight runs respectively.

Debutant Dhananjaya de Silva got the wicket of wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Nevill before Herath put the final nail in the coffin when he cleaned up Steve O’Keefe for four runs.

Herath was easily the pick of the bowlers with five wickets, while Sandakan took three and De Silva and Dilruwan Perera claimed one wicket each.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews lauded his side for going 1-0 up, and said: “Don’t have words to explain after a very hard few months. We regrouped, trained really well and prepared to the best. Brilliant effort by the whole team. Credit to the Australians, they bowled really well. Not a good effort by our batters in the first innings. We needed that 200-plus lead. Special knock by a special young player [Kusal Mendis]. Fantastic effort. The old man Herath was brilliant once again. Sandakan a brilliant find for us. We knew this was going to take our turn, Sandakan responded brilliantly. I’m not trying to think about captaincy and the pressure too much.”

Smith was gutted to have lost, and said: “Tough week, credit to SL the way they played this week. We let ourselves down with the bat, we weren’t disciplined with the bat. Credit to Kusal, 176 turned the game. Tough to come back from there. (Would have been) nice to have a bigger lead than that. Twenty¬†on this wicket was always going to be tough. Wicket was spinning quite a bit, tough to lose O’keefe but that’s cricket. We have got to find our plans and find ways to play in these conditions. 1-0 down in a three-match series so have to turn it around quickly.”

Mendis was named Man of the Match for his career-best knock of 176 in the second innings.

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