Birthday boy Herath stars in Sri Lankan win

Dhaka – Since Muttiah Muralitharan’s retirement in 2010, Sri Lanka had won only four Tests. Rangana Herath’s figures in those are: 9 for 128, 12 for 171, 5 for 121 and 11 for 108. They completed their fifth victory on Tuesday at the R Premadasa Stadium, and Herath was instrumental yet again – marking his 35th birthday with figures of 12 for 157 to strangle Bangladesh and set up a 1-0 series win.
There was the added joy of completing 200 Test scalps for Herath. In the last two years alone, he has taken more Test wickets than any Sri Lankan has in their career, barring Murali and Chaminda Vaas.
His heroics have smoothed Sri Lanka’s transitional phase. Regulars like Thilan Samaraweera and Prasanna Jayawardene have been discarded, and the Sri Lankan captaincy spot has been a bit of a merry-go-round in the past few years. Anything less than a victory in this series would have heaped the pressure on the new leader Angelo Mathews, who hasn’t had the best of times in the two Tests.
The experienced Herath began the trek towards victory with his bagful of wickets, after which two other senior statesmen, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, quickened the march with brisk half-centuries that left Sri Lanka on the brink of another series win over Bangladesh.
Herath had undone 80 overs of good work from Bangladesh yesterday with a double-strike late in the final session. In his first three overs today, Bangladesh’s chances nearly evaporated. The sixth ball of the day spun and Mominul Haque’s attempt at working it to the leg side resulted in a catch at short leg, and soon after he removed the usually reliable Nasir Hossain, who looked to launch the ball towards long-on only for it to turn past his bat and hit the middle of middle stump.
With the lead only 65, it left Mushfiqur Rahim as the only recognised batsmen. To the credit of the Bangladesh lower order, they didn’t collapse completely against the rampant Herath. Even between those two early Herath strikes, Mushfiqur charged out and slammed a straight six, and the big strokes regularly flowed as the Bangladesh tail searched for quick runs.
Sohag Gazi typified that approach. In the first over of the second new ball, he was put down in the cordon by Dimuth Karunaratne, which only prompted a series of boundaries – three off his next four deliveries before he was caught at long-on looking to clear the rope.
Sri Lanka’s catching has been below-par in this match, but Angelo Mathews snapped up his second sharp take at slip to dismiss Mushfiqur for 40, with the lead at 122. There was no quick finish as Abul Hasan, who hit the headlines with a whirlwind debut century last November, again showed off his hitting ability, striking a couple of big sixes to push the lead past 150.
With the tailenders hitting out against the spinners, Sri Lanka turned to the pace of Shaminda Eranga. It took him only five deliveries to finish off the innings, following up a bouncer with a yorker that cannoned towards the base of offstump, leaving Sri Lanka a target of 160.
Sri Lanka began the chase brightly, but Dimuth Karunaratne failed again, which means he has only one half-century in his previous 10 Test innings. Karunaratne shouldered arms to an incoming delivery to be lbw for 16. Any nerves for the home side though were eased by a stream of boundaries from Dilshan, while Sangakkara continued to show the form that has fetched him three centuries in three innings in this series. The pair put on a 94-run stand to erase any doubts over a Sri Lankan victory.
It was another defeat for Bangladesh, but it wasn’t all gloom for them, especially considering the hammering they have usually received on visits to Sri Lanka. Though it was a flat track in Galle, Bangladesh’s notoriously fragile batting showed plenty of backbone after Sri Lanka had piled up a big total. Even in this defeat, they regularly pushed Sri Lanka, making the home side work hard for victory. There was improvement, but not enough to force a favourable result.
Summary: Sri Lanka 346 (Sangakkara 139, Chandimal 102) and 160 for 3 (Dilshan 57, Sangakkara 55) beat Bangladesh 240 (Mominul64, Herath 5-68) and 265 (Tamim 59, Herath 7-89) by seven wickets.
(Source: UNB/ESPNcricinfo)

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