Perera bowls Sri Lanka to series triumph

Perera bowls Sri Lanka to series triumph



Remember the way this series began? Angelo Mathews won the toss and chose to bat in Pallekele, and his men were bundled out for 117. They failed even to survive 35 overs. Eight days of cricket later, the series has been decided, and one of these two teams has been completely humiliated. And it’s not Sri Lanka. What a turnaround it has been. Mathews will lift the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy. And Sri Lanka could hardly have won it more comprehensively.

In Pallekele, rain and bad light conspired to drag the first Test into its fifth day, but in Galle Australia could not even reach the scheduled halfway point of the match. In less than two and a half days, they had lost an eighth consecutive Test in Asia. The No.1 team in the world had been beaten – crushed, in fact – by No.7.

Full report to follow

Sri Lanka’s charge towards a series victory continued on the third morning in Galle, where Australia continued to struggle against the spinners. Sri Lanka made four breakthroughs in the session and at lunch were three wickets from claiming the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy. At the break, Australia were 133 for 7, with Peter Nevill on 7 and Mitchell Starc on 4. Not that it was particularly relevant, but they were still 280 runs adrift from the target.

Australia had added 108 runs in the session but the wickets were what mattered, and Dilruwan Perera picked up three of them and Lakshan Sandakan claimed one. David Warner was the first to depart, lbw to Perera when he missed a ball that failed to turn as he expected. Given out on field, Warner asked for a review but received no satisfaction, with replays showing the ball would have hit the leg stump.

It was a morning full of reviews and they mostly went in Sri Lanka’s favour. On 30, Steven Smith was given not-out to a Sri Lankan appeal for caught at bat pad, but Angelo Mathews asked for a second opinion from the third umpire, who detected an inside edge onto the pad.

It was a fine review from Mathews, but an even better one was to follow. Richard Kettleborough turned down an appeal for lbw against Mitchell Marsh, who thrust his pad well outside off against Sandakan, but Mathews decided to try his luck once more. Marsh was not playing a shot, so being struck outside the line did not matter, and Sandakan’s big turn was enough to have the ball hitting the stumps.

Marsh was out for 18, and the last of Australia’s specialist batsmen followed not far behind. Adam Voges had employed the reverse sweep liberally throughout his innings, without ever quite looking like he had it perfected, and on 28 the shot brought him undone when he failed to get bat on ball and was bowled by Perera. Sri Lanka were three wickets from triumph.