Pallekele - Sri
Lankan spinner Rangana Herath backed up centurion Kusal Mendis'
superlative effort to stun top-ranked Australia by 106 runs in the
rain-affected first Test in Pallekele on Saturday.
grabbed 5-54 to help the hosts bundle out Australia for 161 on the fifth
and final day after they were set a challenging 268 in the second
Australian skipper Steven Smith posted a gritty
half-century before Steve O'Keefe and Peter Nevill frustrated Sri Lanka
with a 178-ball partnership.
Herath bagged the last Australian
wicket to fall by cleaning up O'Keefe to trigger wild celebration in the
Lankan camp. This was Sri Lanka's only second Test win against
Australia in 27 matches.
It was batsman Mendis (176) who set up
the unlikely win for Sri Lanka with his superb maiden ton in his team's
second innings after the hosts overcame an 86-run deficit.
21-year-old Mendis, the only centurion in a low-scoring contest, played a
memorable 254-ball knock laced with 21 fours and a six.
knock by a special young player. Fantastic effort," an elated Sri Lankan
skipper Angelo Mathews said at the post-match presentation.
Lankan spinners it was a race against time as rain threatened to thwart
their chances of upsetting firm favourites Australia but Herath had
other ideas in mind.
spinner, who grabbed four wickets in the first innings, made life
miserable for the Australian batsmen on a turning track on the fifth
Smith, whose 55 was the next best after Mendis' century,
was trapped LBW by Herath as Australia slipped to 141 for seven at
Debutant chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan, who bagged seven
wickets in the match, provided the perfect foil to Herath's experience.
old man Herath was brilliant once again. Sandakan is a brilliant find
for us. We knew that the wicket was going to take turn and Sandakan
responded brilliantly," said Mathews.
O'Keefe, who was ruled out
of the remainder of the series after injuring his hamstring Thursday,
surprised the opposition by turning up at the crease Saturday.
O'Keefe and Nevill resisted stoutly with one eye on the skies but could only delay the inevitable.
week, credit to Sri Lanka the way they played. We let ourselves down
with the bat, we weren't disciplined with the bat. Credit to Kusal, his
176 turned the game," said Smith.
"Anything above 260 on this
wicket was always going to be difficult. It's tough to lose O'Keefe but
that's cricket. We have got to find our plans and find ways to play in
Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0 as the action shifts to Galle for the second Test beginning August 4.