Pakistan completed a dramatic turnaround in the Galle Test to go 1-0 up in the series on Sunday. Yasir Shah picked up seven wickets as Sri Lanka crumbled to 206 all out in their second innings. Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad then knocked off the 90 runs needed to win in 11.2 overs. The 10-wicket triumph completed a fantastic comeback by the visitors, which began on day four with Asad Shafiq’s century and a quick 96 from Sarfraz Ahmed. The Pakistan bowlers then claimed two early wickets by end of the day’s play.
Yasir got the team off to the perfect start on day five by claiming the nightwatchman Dilruwan Perera with a topspinner. Perera couldn’t deal with the delivery. He shouldered arms, and the ball crashed into his off-stump. Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne then negotiated Yasir and the other spinner Zulfiqar Babar as Sri Lanka began to fight back. However, what the Pakistan spin duo did well was to not give away easy runs. In fact, there was a period of play during the partnership when only 10 runs came in seven overs.
The pressure got to Thirimanne as he drove on the up against Wahab Riaz. The bounced a bit more than expected, as it often happens against Riaz, and the edge was held at first slip. Skipper Angelo Mathews also fell cheaply, in somewhat controversial fashion. Mathews was given out to Yasir as he played a forward defence, and the ball deflected off to short-leg. Mathews reviewed the decision, but replays were inconclusive as a result of which the on-field umpire’s decision stood. A bigger blow came when Karunaratne was stumped by Yasir for 79, trying to heave the bowler.
Wickets continued to fall for Sri Lanka as the lower order did not put up much of a resistance. Kithuruwan Vithanage was caught at deep square leg trying to hit out. Dinesh Chandimal held the innings together for a while, but at the other end, Dhammika Prasad charged down to Dhammika Prasad, and was stumped. Rangana Herath also fell slogging Yasir. The spinner eventually got Chandimal as well, for 38, to complete his seven-for. Chandimal was beaten by dip and turn, as Sarfraz stumped him and Lanka were all out for 206.
Needing only 90 to win, openers Hafeez and Shehzad went on an all-out attack. Hafeez smashed an unbeaten 46 from 33 while Shehzad was not out on 43 from 35. It was Pakistan’s first win in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade, and a deserved one.
-- By A Cricket Analyst