Record-breaking Herath bowls Sri Lanka to series lead

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Rangana Herath supassed Daniel Vettori’s tally of wickets enrote his 29th Test fifer © AFP

Rangana Herath became the most successful left-arm spinner in the history of Test cricket as Bangladesh failed the spin test on Day 5 at the Galle International Cricket Stadium to concede a 1-0 series lead to Sri Lanka.

Herath returned figures of 6 for 59 on Saturday (March 11), while Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Asela Gunaratne also got amongst the wickets as Bangladesh lost all 10 wickets to spin and were bowled out for 197 to lose the opening Test by 259 runs.

Having picked two wickets in the opening session, Herath came back after Lunch to run through the lower order, and in the process surpassed Daniel Vettori’s 362 Test wickets. He bagged his 29th five-wicket haul in Test cricket that helped Sri Lanka take an unassailable lead in the two-match series. For Bangladesh, it was another familiar collapse in the last innings, and in complete contrast to their display in the final hour on Day 4. Following a 67-run opening stand, they lost their first five wickets for 37 runs and their last five for 39 runs.

Sandakan triggered the slide in the post-lunch session when he ended a sixth-wicket resistance that lasted for 19.2 overs after the visitors were reduced to 104 for 5 in the first hour. Mushfiqur Rahim’s 98-ball defiance for 34 runs came to an end when he gloved the chinaman bowler down the leg side. Liton Das then attempted an ill-advised shot over mid-wicket, only to get a leading edge to Tharanga at short cover, thus becoming Herath’s 363rd Test victim.

While Mehedi Hasan decided to take the aggressive route, he was running out of partners as Mustafizur Rahman became Herath’s fifth wicket, playing down the wrong line to be bowled by the left-arm spinner. The Sri Lankan captain went on to finish with a six-fer when Hasan failed in his attempt to go over mid-off as the hosts completed the rout with a session and a half to spare.

It was an eventful start to the fifth day’s play with Bangladesh losing three early wickets and a couple of them involved some hilarity too. After checking a slog-sweep that just evaded the short-leg fielder, overnight half-centurion Soumya Sarkar was beaten by a Gunaratne delivery that spun away and was bowled. Not realising that the ball had disturbed the timber, he tried to use a review only to be pointed out at the mode of dismissal.

Next was Mominul Haque, who reviewed a leg-before decision and walked off, before being reminded by a confused Aleem Dar that he had opted for the DRS. He eventually had to leave the field after replays upheld the onfield call that ruled in favour of the bowler Perera, who also found the outside edge of Tamim Iqbal’s bat to leave Bangladesh struggling.

The onus was on the experienced pair of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur to stem the rot. However, the procession of wickets did not cease as Herath struck twice soon after Bangladesh crossed 100, sending back Shakib and Mahmudullah in the same over to leave the visitors reeling. Drawn forward by a well-flighted delivery, Shakib ended up gloving the ball to Dimuth Karunaratne at leg-slip while Mahmudullah played down the wrong line to a delivery that came in and was trapped in front.

Receiving good support from Das, Mushfiqur led Bangladesh’s fightback with a defiant half-century stand. The pair batted with caution, playing the ball on merit and did not attempt anything fancy. They kept the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay for 114 deliveries before Lunch for a half-century stand that reignited Bangladesh’s hopes of saving the game, only to throw it all away in the second session.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 494 (Kusal Mendis 194, Asela Gunaratne 85; Mehedi Hasan 4-113) & 274/6 decl. (Upul Tharanga 115, Dinesh Chandimal 50*; Mehedi Hasan 2-77) beat Bangladesh 312 (Mushfiqur Rahim 85, Soumya Sarkar 71; Dilruwan Perera 3-53, Rangana Herath 3-72) & 197 (Soumya Sarkar 53, Liton Das 35; Rangana Herath 6-59, Dilruwan Perera 2-66) by 259 runs.

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