Mathews speechless after SL win Test

Veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath grabbed seven wickets as Sri Lanka stunned India by 63 runs in a thrilling first Test in Galle on Saturday.

The tourists, set a victory target of 176 runs, were skittled for 112 in their second innings after lunch on the fourth day to give Sri Lanka the lead in the three-match series.

Ajinkya Rahane top-scored with 36, but only three other batsmen reached double figures as India folded in just 49.5 overs.

In a remarkable turnaround, Sri Lanka won after being reduced to 5-95 in their second innings before lunch on the third day, still 98 runs away from avoiding an innings defeat.

Dinesh Chandimal smashed a brilliant 162 off 169 balls, sharing valuable partnerships with Lahiru Thirimanne (44) and Jehan Mubarak (49) to lift the hosts to 367.

India’s hopes of celebrating Independence Day in style vanished in a dramatic morning session in which six wickets fell after the tourists started the day at 1-23.

The 37-year-old Herath picked up four of those wickets to finish with 7-48 in 21 overs, his 22nd five-wicket haul in 61 Tests.

Young off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal backed his senior partner by taking the other three wickets for 47 runs.

Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews said he was “speechless” at clinching victory after his team was down in the dumps on the third morning.

“What a turnaround this has been, I am quite speechless,” he said. “It was a great effort to come back from where we were.

“Chandimal was outstanding and he single-handedly got us to a fighting score. The wicket was pretty demanding and we knew it won’t be an easy target to chase.

“Rangana is, of course, a quality bowler and we were really not surprised how well he bowled. He may be 37 but he keeps coming up with such match-winning spells.

“We are a team in transition, so this win is a real morale-booster. (I) hope we can continue like this in the remaining two Tests.”

Indian captain Virat Kohli refused to make excuses, saying the batsmen were unable to take the pressure of chasing in the fourth innings.

“We did not counter what was being thrown at us,” he said. “We should have been more smart with how we play the spinners.

“The need of the hour in the second innings was to take calculated risks, but the intent was lacking. It should be a lesson for all and we need to improve on that.

“Everyone in the squad is disappointed. We were let down by our batting. There are no excuses. It was a case of us not playing fearless cricket. We were very tentative.”

It was only the second time Sri Lanka had defended a target of less than 200. Pakistan, set 168 to win at Galle in 2009, were shot out for 117 with Herath claiming four wickets.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!