Sri Lanka managed to steal a victory in the first Test at Galle © AFP
Sri Lanka managed to steal a victory from what looked like a draw. In the midst of some drama, they managed to romp home in the nick of time to beat Pakistan by seven wickets in the first Test at Galle. Abhijit Banare looks at the key moments in the Test.
This is the fourth time Pakistan lost a Test having posted over 450. On the other hand, it is the first time Sri Lanka won after conceding over 450 in the first innings. Pakistan caved in to Rangana Herath as Sri Lanka notched up a seemingly comfortable win over Pakistan in Mahela Jayawardene’s penultimate Test. It was Test where the veterans proved to be the star performers starting from Younis Khan to Kumar Sangakkara and finally a six-for from Rangana Herath. Here’s how the Test unfolded.
Mahela Jayawardene gets guard of honour: The rain didn’t dent the hopes of Sri Lankan fans who had turned up in large numbers to watch their hero in his penultimate Test. Jayawardene got a guard of honour from students while his teammates stood near the boundary and applauded along with the spectators in the stadium.
Younis Khan-Misbah-ul-Haq at it again: At 56 for three, the young top order of Pakistan had been found out early on with the wicket assisting the pacers a bit. But the dismissals were more of poor shot selection from the batsmen than the pitch playing tricks. They have done it many times before and had to repeat the same once again. Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan added 100 more to bring some solidity to the innings.
Younis Khan scored 177 in the first innings © AFP
Younis Khan — the warhorse: While the lower middle-order contributed to the total, Pakistan’s innings revolved around their old warhorse Younis. He was rock solid all through the innings to take Pakistan from a precarious situation to a solid one. With over 450 in the first innings, things looked good for them but this turned out to be one of those rare matches where they went on to lose the Test.
Kumar Sangakkara’s double ton: If he chooses to play for two more years with this form, it’s quite likely he could break Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 51 Test tons. But he seems more likely to surpass Don Bradman to record the most double centuries in Test cricket. He is only two double-tons behind Bradman’s 12. Apart from that, Sangakkara also eclipsed Rahul Dravid by scoring his 37th Test ton. The innings of 221 helped Lanka pile on runs. Not to forget the contribution of Angelo Mathews (91). The lower order fell apart and Mathews has proven to be a tough nut to crack at No 6 in all conditions. In hindsight it was not the runs but Mathews’ decision to declare which proved to be a game-changer. If the tail-enders had hung on for a while, the Lankans may not have had the time to win the game.
Kumar Sangakkara scored his 10th Test double ton © AFP
Rangana Herath: This match wouldn’t have resulted in a Sri Lankan victory had Rangana Herath not delivered that spell. He has been Lanka’s Mr. Consistent with the ball. Give him any pitch and he will still give the batsmen a run for their money. He tirelessly bowled over 30 overs to bag six wickets and give his team a clear chance of winning the Test. Pakistan batsmen too were to blame as they threw their wickets away when the Test was heading towards a draw.
Sri Lanka chase 99 inside 17 overs: This is a cakewalk in the T20 era. But, Test cricket is a different ball-game. Adding to the drama, were the clouds that gathered around Galle. Jayawardene took up the challenge to open the innings for the first time for Sri Lanka in Tests. But it was Upul Tharanga who started things off by hitting the first ball for a boundary. The clouds got darker as Sri Lanka Lanka upped the ante. In the end, it was the captain who finished off in style. Two sixes in the end brought the target within touching distance and Angelo Mathews added the finishing touches.
As fate had in store, it started drizzling just as the Lankans began their celebrations. The stage is all set for a grand finish for Jayawardene at his home ground, the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), Colombo.
Read: Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by seven wickets.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)