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Herath magic gives Sri Lanka 1-0 lead

Spinner takes seven wickets as home side bowls India out for 112 to win by 63 runs

Herath magic gives Sri Lanka 1-0 lead  - Cricket News
Rangana Herath returned figures of 7 for 48 as Sri Lanka beat India by 63 runs in the first Test.
Sri Lanka unleashed its booming cannon in the shape of Rangana Herath, and the left-arm spinner shattered Indian hopes at the Galle International Cricket Stadium as the home side came from behind to win the first Test by 63 runs on Saturday (August 15).
 
The fourth day’s play in the first Test was always going to be a test of nerves as much as it would be an examination of batsmen’s techniques against the turning ball. Sri Lanka emerged triumphant on both counts, bowling India out for 112 to cap a remarkable turnaround with a spectacular win that put the side 1-0 up in the three-Test series. Kumar Sangakkara, in his penultimate Test, led the celebratory charge, enveloping Dinesh Chandimal in an uninhibited show of appreciation for the wicketkeeper-batsman’s unbeaten 162 that had turned the game on its head.
 


 
Given its position 24 hours earlier, this must count as one of Sri Lanka’s more famous wins, especially coming as it did a little over a month after a 1-2 loss to Pakistan on home soil. Expertly set up by Chandimal’s blazing fourth Test hundred, the win was secured by Herath’s returns of 7 for 48, including 6 for 35 in 18 unchanged overs on the fourth day. It also ended a two-match losing streak in Galle, traditionally one of Sri Lanka’s more favoured hunting grounds at home.
 
India’s Independence Day began with hope and the promise of a victory and a celebration, but it was Sri Lanka who did all the celebrating through old warhorse Herath and young turk Tharindu Kaushal, aided and abetted in no small measure by spectacular catching with Kaushal Silva at short-leg leading the way.


 
A target of 176 on a wearing surface was never going to be a walk in the park, though the pitch had slowed up a fair bit. There was plenty of turn but it wasn’t at any express pace, while the odd ball kept low but there were no demons in the track.
 
Overnight 23 for 1, India placed emphasis on seeing off the first hour, but that led to some scorelessness as well. By the time lunch came, India was on 78 for 7, and the game had slipped out of its grasp.
 
Sri Lanka’s bowling was also on target, and there weren’t too many loose deliveries on offer. Angelo Mathews gave Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep, his pacers, an exploratory few overs, and the move almost paid dividend as Pradeep took the outside edge of Ishant Sharma’s bat off the eighth delivery of the morning, but a half-difficult chance at second slip was put down. Dhawan was beaten on the drive twice off as many deliveries in that same over, but the real drama didn’t begin until Herath was summoned in the seventh over of the day.
 
Herath worked his magic with his left-arm spin, tidy at all times but decidedly hard to handle when he has tasted early blood.
 
KL Rahul had been trapped leg before on Friday evening playing off the back foot; on Saturday morning, with his first delivery, Herath got rid of Ishant on the stretch, the ball hitting him well below knee roll and heading nowhere else but towards the middle of the middle stump.
 
That was 31 minutes into the day, off the 37th ball of the morning. It was to trigger a cataclysmic chain of events for India's batting order.
 
Rohit Sharma was left standing when Herath turned one past the outside edge and hit offstump, a regulation off-break from the left-arm spinner pitching on middle and turning just enough to go past the bat. Virat Kohli showed intent in his brief stint but was the first of two excellent grabs by Silva, who flung himself forward to take the bat-pad offering off an intended whip-drive that skewed off the inside edge. India had occupied the crease for a nervy hour but didn’t have the runs to show for it, and had lost 3 for 22 in 14 overs in that period. Already, a mini-miracle of no small proportions was required.
 


 
There was to be no fairytale fightback. Dhawan’s two-hour vigil was halted by Kaushal, who flung himself forward and to his left on his follow through to pouch the leading edge and account for both first-innings centurions. Wriddhiman Saha was lured out of his crease by Herath, by now enjoying teasing and tormenting the batsmen and celebrating going past Bishan Bedi to become the third highest Test wicket-taker among left-arm spinners, and Harbhajan Singh was gobbled up by Silva diving on to the pitch as Herath completed his 22nd five-for.
 
Ajinkya Rahane battled on manfully, putting on a perfect exhibition of batting in a pressure situation. Rahane is among the more silent, no-fuss, non-flashy guys in the squad, with plenty of substance. With no support at the other end though, he was always fighting a losing battle, even though he may never have thought along those lines.

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