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Fernando and Clementine Wrap-up the Galle Test Match

March 12, 2017

I. Andrew Fidel Fernando: “Herath a fourth innings force of nature”  in ESPNcricinfo, 10 March 2017,

Sri Lanka’s slow bowlers imposed their familiar chokehold over another fourth innings of a home Test match, uprooting batsmen as early as the second ball of the day, before sending the Test hurtling to its conclusion by the middle of the afternoon session.
Sri Lanka 494 (Mendis 194, Mehedi 4-112) and 274 for 6 declared (Tharanga 115, Mehedi 2-77) beat Bangladesh 312 (Mushfiqur 85, Perera 3-53) and 197 (Liton 35, Mushfiqur 34, Herath 6-59) by 259 runs.

Leading the final charge was Rangana Herath. He was unstoppable as ever in defence of a score, and picked up record for most career wickets for a left-arm spinner en route to figures of 6 for 59. This was his 29th five-wicket haul overall, and his 10th in the fourth innings – no one in the history of the game has got more than seven.

Batting in the fourth innings in Galle is among the most daunting of Test cricket’s challenges, and although Bangladesh suggested they might approach the task with spunk on the fourth afternoon, fell away quickly on Saturday. This was their third day-five collapse in four matches, having also failed to draw matches in Wellington and Hyderabad. Save for a 19-over stand between Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das, there was little in the way of resistance. They were eventually all out for 197 – 259 runs short of Sri Lanka.

Their woes had begun immediately on day five. Soumya Sarkar, who had sped to fifty the previous afternoon, almost sent a catch to short leg off Asela Gunaratne first ball, but was out next ball in any case, Gunaratne’s offbreak jiving away from his defence to shave the top of off stump.

The top order then quickly succumbed. Dilruwan Perera came to the crease to bowl to Mominul Haque, and trapped the batsman with much the same delivery that had got him out in the first innings. Flighted in to pitch on around middle stump, Perera turned the ball, beat the shot, and rapped a leaden-footed Mominul dead in front of middle stump. So scrambled was the batsman’s mind, that he even ventured a heedless review of that lbw decision though he never really thought he had a chance of surviving it – walking most of the way to the boundary before the third-umpire could even run the simulations.

Tamim Iqbal soon sent a catch to slip off Perera, before Herath made his presence known with a double-strike that drew him level with Daniel Vettori’s career wicket tally of 362. Shakib Al Hasan was caught at leg slip off one that turned a little more than the batsman expected, then two balls later, Mahmudullah was lbw to a delivery that spun past his defence as well. At that stage, Bangladesh had lost five wickets in 12.4 overs.

Mushfiqur and Liton mounted a brief fight through the back end of the first session, lending hope that Bangladesh might be able to survive until the afternoon rains came. But by now Galle’s pitch – itself often a force of nature – had become unfriendly, and even the bad balls turned far enough to draw mistakes. Lakshan Sandakan turned a ball way down the legside in the over after lunch, and Mushfiqur got himself out chasing it and offering a thin edge to the keeper. Sandakan had dismissed Shakib in similar style in the first innings.

Herath then soon had Liton caught off the leading edge at cover to take his 363rd Test wicket – which made him the game’s most successful left-arm spinner – and the tail exposed now, the result seemed inevitable. Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman all fell to Herath. All up, Bangladesh could only last 45.2 of the 98 overs they were due to bat on the day.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

iI. Rex Clementine:

The nightmares of South Africa looked a distant memory yesterday as Sri Lanka completed a 259-run rout of Bangladesh in the first Test in Galle. The recent Test series in South Africa is one of the toughest undertaken by the national team and the tourists had no answers for the Proteas’ formidable fast bowling unit. But in home conditions, the Sri Lankans proved that they are still a formidable force winning with a session to spare on a flat wicket.

The only thing in Bangladesh’s mind when play resumed yesterday was to bat out three sessions and with predictions for rain, they could have held onto a draw. The openers had batted well in the fourth evening adding 67 runs for the first wicket and Soumya Sarkar had raced to 53 off 47 deliveries.

But the final morning was an anticlimax. Soumya offered a catch in the first ball of the day, but Kusal Mendis misjudged it. But the very next ball, Asela Gunaratne cleaned him up.

“We  had to stop play when Asela was bowling last night. So I had no option but to give Asela the ball to complete his over. I would have opted for someone else if I had an option,” Sri Lanka skipper Rangana Herath said. No wonder they call cricket a funny game.

The chances of Bangladesh drawing the game faded away in the first hour itself when they lost five wickets for the addition of 37 runs.  Sri Lanka had a firm grip on the game at that stage and there was little Bangladesh could do.

A 54-run stand followed between Mushfiqur and Liton Das as Bangladesh went to lunch without losing further wickets.

The fall of Mushfiqur in the second ball after lunch brought down the curtains on the tourists. When Herath dismissed Liton, he became the most successful left-arm spinner in the history of the game overtaking Daniel Vettori’s 362 wickets.

Herath finished with six wickets for 59 in the innings, 29th time he has taken a five wicket haul in Tests. It was the tenth time the 38-year-old had taken a five wicket haul in the fourth innings. Former greats Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan had taken only seven five wicket hauls in the fourth innings.

………………………………………………………

Umpires left stranded on highway

The Match Referee and umpires who officiated the first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had a nasty experience on their return to Colombo as the bus carrying them broke down and they were left stranded.

The match officials were heading to Colombo after the completion of the first Test when the bus broke down between Galle and the Hikkaduwa exit on the Southern Highway.

*** ***

ALSO SEE Sunday Observer: “REcord-Breaker Herath eyeing 400 Test Wickets,” http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2017/03/12/sports/record-breaker-rangana-herath-eyeing-400-test-wickets

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