The Report by Andrew Fidel Fernando
How did we get here? How did we hurtle, from the dullest 11 sessions of Test cricket possible, to this stirring, heart-palpitating, dramedy of a conclusion? Sri Lanka, out of the match surely when they set out to defend 136 after lunch, yet victors by 21 runs, Rangana Herath breaking records, scuttling Pakistan again – 6 for 43 to his name. The pitch began to sing for him, the batsmen played him with fatal hesitation, Dilruwan Perera was even denied the winning wicket by a no-ball, just so Herath could complete 400 Test wickets – the first left-arm spinner to the milestone.
With this mild insanity of a spell, he has confirmed himself one of the greatest defenders of scores in Test history. He has 11 fourth-innings five-wicket hauls now. Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne? Puh, only seven apiece.
When he floated one up beautifully to Mohammad Amir, and then got it to connive between bat and pad to hit middle stump, Herath also became the first bowler to complete 100 wickets against Pakistan. Perera thought he had Yasir Shah caught at short leg, prompting wild Sri Lankan celebrations, but was found to have overstepped. Herath doesn’t over step. His was the final triumphant act – a slider to nail poor Mohammad Abbas in front of off stump.
Pakistan were visibly heartbroken. How had they lost this Test after Yasir’s 5 for 51 had swung the match almost completely in their favour? How had they been such kings with the ball in the morning, taking 6 for 69, and then become such klutzes with the bat in the next two sessions, surrendering all ten wickets for 114? So go Sri Lanka v Pakistan Tests, though – surely the most unpredictable and close-run rivalry of the past 10 years. The last time these two teams played, Sri Lanka set Pakistan a mammoth 377 runs to win, and still managed to lose.
Summarized scores: Sri Lanka 419 (Chandimal 155, Dickwella 83) and 138 (Dickwella 40*, Yasir 5-51) beat Pakistan 422 (Azhar 85, Herath 5-93) and 114 (Herath 6-43, Dilruwan 3-46) by 21 runs