Pakistan Leg Spinner Yasir Shah took a 7 wicket haul in the second innings to make way for an unlikely Pakistan victory on the 5th day. The defeat today exposed how fragile the inexperienced Sri Lankan batting can be.
Sri Lanka resumed day 5 at 63/2, trailing Pakistan by 54 runs and having 8 wickets in hand. Sri Lanka lost their 3rd wicket on the very first ball of the day when Dilruwan Perera was dismissed for duck by Yasir Shah. Things seemed in Sri Lanka’s control as Dimuth Karunaratane and Lahiru Thirimanne shared a fifty run partnership for the fourth wicket. But once Thirimanne fell for 44, caught at slip of Wahab Riaz, the floodgates had opened for Pakistan. The dismissal of young Sri Lankan batsmen left a lot to be questioned about their shot selection.
Yasir Shah then removed Sri Lankan captain Angelo Matthews, caught at short leg, on the second ball after lunch. It turned out to be a controversial decision as their was no conclusive evidence to overturn when Matthews reviewed the decision. The replays couldn’t give a clear picture and the decision stayed on with the on-field umpire’s call. Split-screen replays suggested Mathews might not have edged it, with the ball appearing to have passed the bat while viewed from the square-on angle when bat and ball were closest together from the front-on angle.
Yasir Shah now made sure that he made small work of the lower order and didn’t allow the tail to wag much. Had it not been for Dinesh Chandimal’s batting in the end, who was the last man to fall, the eventual target of 90 runs would have been much less.
Pakistan openers then came out and chased the target in a hurry in just 11.2 overs with Mohammed Hafeez being 43* and Ahmed Shehzad 46*. The seven wicket haul by Yasir Shah turned out to be his best ever bowling performance in first class cricket.
This was Pakistan’s first win in a test match in Sri Lanka since 2006. They also went past India as the country with most test wins.
Angelo Matthews spoke at the presentation ceremony that it was a bad loss. He said, “Pretty bad loss. Pakistanis deserved to win. We have two more games to bounce back. We decided to bat through. First session was crucial. Unfortunately we kept losing wickets. We bowled well in patches but they bowled better than us. Our spinners were not that effective on this track. We don’t need to panic. Just a one-off game. Got to keep trust in the players. Pretty disappointed (with the umpiring decision) but that is how it goes, people do make mistakes, got to live with it.”
While on the other Misbah-ul-Haq was pretty pleased with the team’s comeback in the first innings. He said, “It was very clear in our minds that the only one way of wining this Test is if we can get them early in the first innings. We just took that chance, there was a little bit of moisture, that helped our spinners, the ball was turning and bouncing even in the first innings, thereafter hats off to everyone. Fight back from Shafiq and Sarfraz. Wahab in the first innings, supported well by the three spinners. Really a big win for us, especially in Galle, We have been losing the last three series here, we were hoping we can get on top in this series, it is a confidence boost for us to go up 1-0. We were really practising last couple of series (for Herath), even in Bangladesh we played lot of left-armers. Tried to be positive against Herath, when you are playing him from the crease and letting him bowl, he could trouble you. Everybody applied themselves and we got good results. On these pitches when you have footmarks, legspinner plays a big role, that is what he (Yasir) has been doing in the UAE, he has really improved and is bowling really well, his performance was key for us winning this Test. We were positive right from the toss. We thought of winning even though it was three-and-a-half days.”