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Sri Lanka vs Australia: 5 talking points from the 1st Test

Kusal Mendis arrives as Australia succumb to the turning ball.

Sri Lankan team
The Sri Lankan players celebrate a famous victory at Pallekele

When the coin went up on the opening day, history was very much against Sri Lanka despite being the home team. Their Test record against Australia read – one win and seventeen losses from 26 matches.

The initial phase of the first Test at Pallekele International Stadium seemed to reiterate the same. Having been bowled out for 117 in the first innings, they were staring down the barrel.

But, the exuberant Kusal Mendis single-handedly pulled his team from the wrenches with a stunning counter attack in the second essay and gave his bowlers a substantial target to defend on the final day.

The experienced Rangana Herath stamped his authority by preying on Australia’s frailties against the turning ball to help the hosts to a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series. Let us take a look at five important takeaways from Sri Lanka’s 106-run victory.


#5 The legacy of mystery spin continues

Lakshan Sandakan
Lakshan Sandakan‘s extracted prodigious turn from the surface

What is it with Sri Lankan cricket and mystery spin? Right from the days of Somachandra De Silva to the recent travails of Ajantha Mendis, their slow bowlers possess something unique. In between those guys, a bloke called Muttiah Muralitharan just happened to end up with 800 Test wickets as well.

The latest addition to the list is Lakshan Sandakan, a chinaman bowler from Ragama. With an action that left batsmen engulfed in uneasiness, the 25-year-old sparkled brightly and confounded the Aussies.

In what turned out to be extremely useful in the bigger scheme of things, Sandakan razed through the lower-order before they could add vital runs at the end of the first innings. Even though Rangana Herath accounted for the specialists, he planted serious doubts in the batsmen’s minds from the other end.

Seven wickets at the cost of just 107 runs from almost 47 overs indicated that he could be used in different stages of the match.

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