Sri Lanka beat Australia by 163 runs for a series whitewash
When Australia were set 324 to win on day-5 of the third test against Sri Lanka at Colombo, the hosts probably knew that this was a great opportunity for them to complete a rare “whitewash”. But as David Warner set off in typical fashion while taking Australia to lunch at 77/1, the proceedings seemed set for an exciting run chase. Alas, that was the last position of strength that the tourists held as the wheels came off their run-chase sooner than anybody would’ve imagined.
From 77/1, Australia crumbled while adding just 83 runs thereafter. It took Sri Lanka all of 44.1 overs to bundle the beleaguered Australians for 160. Their entire middle-order failed to get going and only Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon managed to reach double figures after the openers departed. Rangana Herath was the destructor-in-chief yet again for Sri Lanka. He sent down 18 of the 44 overs bowled in Australia’s second innings while claiming 7/54.
It’s been a remarkable series for the diminutive Sri Lankan left-arm spinner. With 28 wickets from three Test matches, he has single handedly demolished the opposition. The final day’s play was the culmination of a hard fought contest between bat and ball that witnessed three hundreds from the hosts and two from the tourists. At the end of the day, despite their best efforts, Australia was outsmarted by a new-look Sri Lankan outfit and failed to get the better of Herath’s remarkable precision and consistency.
An elated Sri Lanka
The joy was visible on the faces of the Sri Lankans as they hoisted aloft the Warne-Muralitharan trophy with roars of “3-0”. "It's been a tough series, outplayed in all three matches. Think Sri Lanka have played some great cricket, disappointing but a great learning curve", said Steve Smith. He then added that despite being well prepared, they were found wanting. “Can't fault the prep, got here early, worked as hard as we can. But in the matches, after getting Sri Lanka at 117, we couldn't get ahead of the game and from there it came down. Apologies for what we've done over here."
Rangana Herath picked up the Man of the Match and Man of the Series trophy. “No secret, if you do well, just a lot of hard work [getting these awards]. Experience counts a lot, every day we learn, it all helps me so thank you very much to all those people”, said the Sri Lankan veteran.
Skipper Angelo Mathews was equally elated. “What a fantastic moment, especially after being 26 for 5 to come back this strong, credit to de Silva the way he batted and then Chandimal the way they got us through the second and third sessions on the first day and then Herath, doing his thing.” Mathews wasted no time in praising his star bowler – “You can't keep him out. He was fantastic with one leg, one leg was enough for him.”
As Sri Lanka took a lap of honour around the Sinhalese Sports Club with the fans on their feet, Steve Simth’s Australia looked on wondering just what they are to do to register a Test win in Sri Lanka and the sub-continent. After all, they were just hammered by a team ranked 7th in the world and in the process, had suffered their 9th loss on the trot in Asia. The crowd meanwhile, enjoyed every bit of the moment and even dished out a ‘happy birthday’ song to Kusal Perera on his 26th birthday.
The smiles are well and truly back in Sri Lankan cricket.