GALLE: Seasoned campaigner Rangana Herath once again proved his versatility as a captain when he fashioned out an unlikely win for Sri Lanka over Bangladesh by 259 runs in the first cricket Test concluded at the Galle
International Stadium shortly after lunch yesterday.
With Bangladesh resuming at 67 for no loss on the fifth and final day Sri Lanka needed to take ten wickets during the day against fickle weather conditions that had already lopped off 49 overs on days three and four. On each of those days the final sessions play had been interrupted by bad weather. So it was a race against the rain to capture the remaining ten
But Sri Lanka didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough because they achieved it as early as the second ball of the day when part time spinner Asela Gunaratne bowling his awkward cutters caused confusion in the mind of Soumya Sarkar who had his off bail clipped without adding to his overnight score of 53.
Worse was to follow when in the fourth over of the day Dilruwan Perera trapped Mominul Haque lbw for five and off the next over sent back Tamim Iqbal for 19 defending a ball to Gunaratne at slip.
Enter Herath in the ninth over of the day and it didn’t take him too long to get into the act. He make a double strike in the 28th over of the innings by getting rid of Shakib Al Hasan (8) and Mahmudullah (0) to have half the Bangladesh side out for 104. Herath went to lunch having equaled New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori’s world record of 362 wickets for a left-arm spinner.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and wicket-keeper Liton Das took Bangladesh to lunch without any further damage at 157-5, but off the second ball after the break Rahim (34) attempting to tickle a ball floating down the leg side from Lakshan Sandakan gave a catch behind the wicket to Dickwella.
Herath broke Vettori’s record and became the most successful left-arm bowler in Test history when he had Das caught off a leading edge by Tharanga at cover for 35.
The rest of the Bangladesh batting hardly offered any strong resistance with the exception of Mehedi Hasan who once again displayed defiance in scoring 24. With the rain keeping away Sri Lanka smelled victory as Herath ran through the rest of the batting to finish with another five-for in an innings – his 23rd in a glittering career. He ended up with figures of 6 for 59 off 20.2 overs and once again had led his country to a Test win – three out of three. Herath has 366 wickets from 79 Tests compared to Vettori’s 362 from 113 Tests.
Young Kusal Mendis took the Man of the Match award for his brilliant knock of 194 in the first innings. ARD (Sunday Observer)