ABU DHABI: Rangana Herath became the second Sri Lankan to bag 400 wickets as his six-wicket haul steered Sri Lanka to a dramatic 21-run win over Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The veteran spinner took 6-43 — 11-136 in the match — to scupper Pakistan, set a modest 136-run target, for just 114 on a weary fifth day Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
The victory was achieved when Herath trapped last man Mohammad Abbas leg before for nought to give Sri Lanka a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Herath, a long-time nemesis of Pakistan, also completed 100 wickets in 20 Tests against them, during an innings in which only debutant Haris Sohail fought with some resolve for his 34 runs.
Herath became the 14th most successful bowler in all Test cricket and fifth spinner behind his countryman Muttiah Muralitharan, Australia’s Shane Warne and the Indian duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh and the first slow left-armer to reach the 400-wicket milestone.
An unassuming Herath said he didn’t know why he always took wickets against Pakistan.
“I have no idea,” said Herath, who took 22 wickets against Pakistan in 2014 — a world record for a two-match series. “Maybe I have played more against them, that’s why. I am so happy with the remarkable achievement [400 wickets].”
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed called the defeat ‘disappointing’.
“We should have won this,” said Sarfraz skippering his side for the first time in a Test. “We have a few issues, especially in the fifth day when we come under pressure.”
The 136 set Pakistan was Sri Lanka’s lowest defended target, improving on the 168 they set the Pakistanis in the Galle Test in 2009. It was also a first defeat for Pakistan at this venue in 10 Tests.
Earlier, leg-spinner Yasir Shah took 5-51 — his 32nd five-wicket haul in Tests — to dismiss Sri Lanka for 138 in their second innings.
Niroshan Dickwella ensured Sri Lanka had something to defend with a pugnacious 40.
Pakistan started the chase on a shaky note when Herath dismissed opener Sami Aslam for two before accounting for Asad Shafiq, who made 20.
Herath had taken 5-93 in Pakistan’s first innings of 422 and this time he shared the new ball with Suranga Lakmal to put Pakistan in trouble with regular wickets.
Perera then had Shan Masood (seven) and a shaky Babar Azam for three to leave Pakistan struggling at 32-4.
In between fast bowler Lakmal had Azhar Ali caught behind for nought.
On the either side of tea, Haris and Sarfraz (19) fought hard to stitch a 42-run stand but Herath provided the breakthrough when he forced the Pakistan skipper out of his crease and had him stumped by Dickwella.
Perera ended Haris’ fight by trapping him leg before and also had Shah but it turned out to be a no-ball, halting Sri Lanka’s celebrations, eventually provided by Herath.
Pakistan, led by Yasir, bowled well in the morning.
Sri Lanka, who resumed at 69-4, lost their last six wickets for 69 runs but Dickwella still put up a lone fight — hitting four boundaries — and more importantly giving Sri Lanka a target to fight.
Pakistan were given two key wickets by seamer Abbas who finished with 2-22.
It was then left to Yasir who on consecutive deliveries dismissed Perera for six and then had Herath caught by close in fielder to complete his fourth consecutive five-wicket haul in as many Tests.
Dickwella then took a rearguard action, shielding the number 10 Lakshan Sandakan from the bowling during a resistance-packed ninth wicket stand of 34 which came in 10.1 overs.
Yasir finally had Sandakan caught at point while Hasan Ali ended the innings by bowling Nuwan Pradeep, leaving Dickwell’s fight stranded.
Sunday’s day four was tough to negotiate but despite a 32nd Test five-wicket haul for Herath, Pakistan posted 422 to take a slender three-run lead on the first innings.
Herath’s 5-93 in 40 overs were well foiled by a brilliant 76 by debutant Harisl, as initially it looked as though Sri Lanka would take a first-innings lead.
Pakistan then hit back in the second innings through Yasir, who first had opener Dimuth Karunaratne caught for 10 and then dismissed first-innings centurion Chandimal, caught at slip, for seven.
Haris followed his responsible knock by claiming Kaushal Silva’s wicket, whom he trapped leg before for 25, while part-timer Asad Shafiq had Lahiru Thirimanne for seven.
The 28-year-old Haris’ impressive Test bow has come despite a career-threatening knee injury which required surgery in 2015.
Earlier on Sunday, Pakistan too were struggling at 316-6 and were in danger of conceding a healthy lead despite Azhar’s defiant knock of 85 lasted more than five hours and included four boundaries, but with his dismissal Pakistan’s hopes of building a lead looked slim.
But Haris had other ideas as he added an invaluable 50 for the ninth wicket with Hasan to lift Pakistan from 340-8.
Haris hit seven fours and two sixes before holing out to paceman Nuwan Pradeep.
Hasan’s whirlwind 25-ball 29 featured three sixes and two fours.
The second and final Test — a day-night affair — will be played in Dubai from Friday.
SRI LANKA (1st Innings 419 (L.D. Chandimal 155 not out, F.D.M. Karunaratne 93, N. Dickwella 83; Mohammad Abbas 3-75, Yasir Shah 3-120).
PAKISTAN (1st innings):
Shan Masood b Herath 59
Sami Aslam lbw b Perera 51
Azhar Ali c Mendis b Herath 85
Asad Shafiq c Thirimanne b Herath 39
Babar Azam c Dickwella b Pradeep 28
Haris Sohail c Lakmal b Pradeep 76
Sarfraz Ahmed b Lakmal 18
Mohammad Amir lbw b Lakmal 4
Yasir Shah c Thirimanne b Herath 8
Hasan Ali st Dickwella b Herath 29
Mohammad Abbas not out 1
EXTRAS (B-5, LB-9, W-2, NB-8) 24
TOTAL (all out, 162.3 overs) 422
FALL OF WKTS: 1-114, 2-116, 3-195, 4-266, 5-294, 6-316, 7-326, 8-340, 9-390.
BOWLING: Lakmal 22-5-42-2 (1nb, 1w); Pradeep 25.3-1-77-2 (6nb); Perera 37-10-92-1 (1nb); Sandakan 35-7-98-0 (1w); Herath 40-12-93-5; Karunaratne 3-1-6-0.
SRI LANKA (2nd Innings, overnight 69-4):
F.D.M. Karunaratne c Shan b Yasir 10
J.K. Silva lbw b Haris 25
H.D.R.L. Thirimanne c Sarfraz b Asad 7
B.K.G. Mendis lbw b Abbas 18
L.D. Chandimal c Asad b Yasir 7
R.A.S. Lakmal c Babar b Abbas 13
N. Dickwella not out 40
M.K.D. Perera lbw b Yasir 6
H.M.R.K.B. Herath c Shan b Yasir 0
P.A.D.L.R. Sandakan c Amir b Yasir 8
N. Pradeep b Hasan 0
EXTRAS (LB-3, NB-1) 4
TOTAL (all out, 66.5 overs) 138
FALL OF WKTS: 1-20, 2-33, 3-51, 4-65, 5-73, 6-86, 7-101, 8-101, 9-135.
BOWLING: Mohammad Amir 12-4-27-0; Mohammad Abbas 12-3-22-2 (1nb); Yasir Shah 27-5-51-5; Hasan Ali 7.1-0-21-1; Asad Shafiq 3.4-0-7-1; Haris Sohail 5-2-7-1.
PAKISTAN (2nd Innings):
Shan Masood c Silva b Perera 7
Sami Aslam c Karunaratne b Herath 2
Azhar Ali c Dickwella b Lakmal 0
Asad Shafiq c Karunaratne b Herath 20
Babar Azam c Dickwella b Perera 3
Haris Sohail lbw b Perera 34
Sarfraz Ahmed st Dickwella b Herath 19
Hasan Ali b Herath 8
Mohammad Amir b Herath 9
Yasir Shah not out 6
Mohammad Abbas lbw b Herath 0
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-4, NB-1) 6
TOTAL (all out, 47.4 overs) 114
FALL OF WKTS: 1-4, 2-7, 3-16, 4-32, 5-36, 6-78, 7-98, 8-100, 9-111.
BOWLING: Lakmal 5-1-12-1; Herath 21.4-4-43-6; Perera 18-0-46-3 (1nb); Pradeep 2-1-4-0; Sandakan 1-0-4-0.
RESULT: Sri Lanka win by 21 runs to lead two-match series 1-0.
UMPIRES: R.A. Kettleborough (England) and N.J. Llong (England).
TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan).
MATCH REFEREE: A.J. Pycroft (Zimbabwe).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Rangana Herath.
SECOND TEST: Dubai (D/N), Oct 6-10.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2017