SL record stunning victory

GALLE: Rangana Herath skittled Pakistan with his left-arm spin to hand Sri Lanka a dramatic, 50-run victory in the first Test here today.

Herath grabbed 4-15 as Pakistan, chasing a modest target of 168, collapsed from a seemingly impregnable 71-2 to 117 all out in their second innings before lunch on the fourth day. Paceman Thilan Thushara and spinner Ajantha Mendis chipped in with two wickets each as Pakistan lost their last eight batsmen for 46 runs.

The brilliant win gave Sri Lanka a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, the first between the two nations since gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore on March 3. Pakistan, who beat Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final in London last month, now have four days to ponder the loss before the second Test starts in Colombo on July 12.

Kumar Sangakkara, leading Sri Lanka for the first time in a Test series, was delighted with the win, but said he was worried by the team’s modest totals of 292 and 217 in the two innings. “It was a great win by the side because, until today, Pakistan had outplayed us in the match,” said Sangakkara. “But honestly, we have a lot of thinking to do about our batting. We have to figure out our mindset, we need to be patient. There are no excuses. We have to perform every single time.”

A stunned Pakistan captain Younus Khan said the team’s lack of Test cricket — just three Tests in the last 18 months — had proved costly. “I never thought we would lose this game because we needed only 97 runs today with eight wickets in hand,” he said. Younus, however, promised an improved showing in the remaining two Tests.

Herath, who replaced the injured Muttiah Muralitharan for this match, struck twice in the day’s second over when he removed the overnight pair of Mohammad Yousuf and Salman Butt in the space of four deliveries. Yousuf, century-maker in the first innings, was given out leg-before as he padded up to a straight ball from the left-armer that was headed for middle stump.

Left-handed Butt, who looked good while making 28 on Monday, appeared to lose concentration after Yousuf’s departure and pulled Herath high to Tharanga Paranavitana at deep square-leg. Wickets tumbled at regular intervals after that and Herath, later named man of the match, signalled the victory by having Abdur Rauf snapped up at first slip by former captain Mahela Jayawardene.