Wednesday 21 March 2018 / 10:05 AM


Sri Lanka have claimed a famous 106-run victory in the first Test against Australia in Kandy – just their second over the perennial heavyweights, and the first since 1999.

Chasing 268 in the fourth innings in a spinners’ paradise, Australia were bowled out for 161 during the final session of the Test, despite a gutsy rearguard effort from Peter Nevill and Steve O’Keefe.

Resuming on 3/88, the tourists lost Adam Voges (12) early on Day 5, before losing Mitch Marsh (25), captain Steve Smith (55) and Mitchell Starc (0) in the space of three overs to be 7/141 at lunch.

The first three wickets all fell to wily veteran Rangana Herath, while debutant Lakshan Sandakan had Starc caught-and-bowled.

Sandakan trapped Nathan Lyon lbw six overs after the resumption – his seventh wicket of the Test – before Nevill and O’Keefe dug in for an extraordinary 30-over stand.

Nevill faced 130 balls for just 9 runs, while O’Keefe, who suffered a series-ending hamstring injury earlier in the match, faced 105 deliveries for his 4.

Dhananjaya de Silva finally made the breakthrough when he had Nevill caught-behind, and O’Keefe’s iron will was finally broken three overs later by Herath, who claimed his fifth wicket and sealed a historic win for the home side.

Stud of the day

Sri Lanka held a slight edge heading into the final day, but Herath’s early rampage virtually made the result a fait accompli. The Australian middle order had no answer as he dismissed Voges caught-and-bowled before trapping Marsh and Smith lbw in consecutive overs. The veteran leggie notched 5/54 in the second innings and finished with match figures of 9/103.

Stud of the match

In a match dominated by spin bowling, Kusal Mendis’ phenomenal 176 off 254 balls in Sri Lanka’s second innings was the decisive performance of the Test. He almost singlehandedly turned the hosts’ 86-run first-innings deficit into a formidable fourth-innings target. Ultimately, no Australian batsman could hold a candle to the young Mendis’ master-class, and Smith’s 55 was the next highest score of the match.

Looking ahead

The second Test of the three-match series gets underway on Thursday at Galle, with Australia under the pump in their bid to retain the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy. Left-arm spinner Jon Holland has been called up to replace the injured O’Keefe, but further changes are unlikely. Sri Lanka will head into the second Test supremely confident after a supreme effort by their spinners and the emergence of a new batting star in the form of Mendis.

Fun facts

-The 15 lbw dismissals was the most in a Test in Sri Lanka, and the equal-fifth most in Test history.

-Herath has taken six five-fors in the fourth innings of Tests, behind only compatriot Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne (7) in Test history.

-David Warner’s match tally of 1 run was the worst by an Australian openers from two innings in a Test since Mark Taylor made a pair against Pakistan in Karachi in 1994.

Around the world

New Zealand is on the verge of a big innings victory in the first Test against Zimbabwe in Harare. The tourists declared at 6/576 – featuring centuries by Tom Latham (105), Ross Taylor (173 not out) and BJ Watling (107) – in reply to Zimbabwe’s 164. The home side struggled to 5/121 at stumps on Day 3, still 291 runs shy of making the Black Caps bat again.

India dominated the first day of the second Test against the West Indies in Kingston, rolling the home side for 196 as Ravi Ashwin – who recently topped the latest Test bowling rankings – claimed 5/52. Jermaine Blackwood top-scored for the Windies with 62, before India reached 0/38 by stumps.

[YouTube – Cric Edge]

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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