Herath spins a web as Sri Lanka end 17-year wait
PALLEKELE: Skipper Angelo Mathews heaped praise on centurion Kusal Mendis after Sri Lanka pulled off a shock 106-run win against top-ranked Australia in the rain-hit first Test in Pallekele on Saturday.
Sri Lankan spinners led by Rangana Herath played a major part in the team’s first Test win against Australia for 17 years, but it was Mendis who sparked a turnaround for the hosts.
The 21- year- old Mendis, whose 176-run knock was laced with 21 fours and a six, registered his maiden Test ton to enable Sri Lanka to post 353 in the second innings and overcome an 86-run deficit. Left-arm spinner Herath then took charge to grab 5-54 and help the hosts bundle out Australia for 161 on the fifth and final day after they were set a challenging 268-run target.
“It’s a great victory because after the first day’s play we were heading just nowhere. Credit should go to Kusal Mendis, who rescued us,” an elated Mathews told reporters.
“The wicket was assisting the spinners and Rangana Herath proved his brilliance,” added Mathews, who was “relieved” to taste victory after a disastrous England series that saw them lose the Tests, ODIs and the one-off T20.
The enormity of the unlikely triumph was also felt when Sri Lankan President offered “special congratulations to Mendis.
“Congratulations to the Sri Lankan Cricket team for the fantastic win today. Special congratulations to Kusal Mendis,” President Maithripala Sirisena said on twitter.