Sri Lankan spin bowler Rangana Herath’s 10-wicket match haul helped the hosts crush the West Indies by an innings and six runs on Saturday (17) to decisively win the first Test at Galle with a day to spare.
The visitors were bowled out for 227 in the second innings, just an hour and 15 minutes after lunch on the fourth day of a Test which saw Herath wreak havoc throughout.
He finished with second innings figures of four for 79, after taking six for 68 in the first innings, in which the tourists were all out for 251 and forced to follow on after Sri Lanka amassed 484 in their first innings.
Herath’s fifth 10-wicket haul in his 64th Test put him just 12 wickets shy of becoming the third Sri Lankan to grab 300 Test wickets.
“Galle was where I started my career,” said a jubilant Herath. “There is something (at Galle) for me and all spinners. I wish I can reach the 300 mark in this series.”
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews praised Herath as simply “outstanding” after the West Indies’ Darren Bravo described him as one of the top spin bowlers in the world.
Herath’s heroics came after Sri Lanka’s domination with the bat on the first two days. The left-handed opener Dimuth Karunaratne (186) and the middle order batsman Dinesh Chandimal (151) piled the misery on struggling West Indies.
Karunaratne and Chandimal set a new record in the third wicket partnership between the two countries when they added 238, beating a 14-year-old record set by Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene of 162.
“We have had some individual brilliance. Karunaratne and Chandimal played well, Herath was outstanding,” Mathews said.
Sri Lanka have now won six out of 10 Tests played against West Indies in the island since 1993 with four draws. West Indies are yet to win a single match. The second and final Test begins in Colombo on Thursday (22).
After starting the day on 67 for two, the West Indies never managed to build enough momentum to challenge the hosts.
Jermaine Blackwood, the last man out for 92, put up a resistance, but not enough to stave off an innings defeat. His knock included 10 fours and three sixes.
Shortly after the start of the day’s play, nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo was caught by captain Mathews off the bowling of Herath with the score at just 74.
The next ball, Herath trapped Marlon Samuels leg before wicket.
Though the spinner missed out on a hat-trick, Sri Lanka kept the West Indies in trouble with Darren Bravo (31) falling to a peach of a swinger by Nuwan Pradeep that edged back to wicketkeeper Kusal Janith Perera.
Denesh Ramdin was next to fall, caught at slip off the bowling of Milinda Siriwardana.
In reply to Sri Lanka’s 484, the West Indies’ batsmen were no match for Herath’s guile.
The young opening pair of Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope looked confident at the start, but were ill-equipped to absorb the pressure from Herath.
Marlon Samuels—of whom much was expected—failed in both innings, scoring 11 in the first and falling for a first ball duck in the second.
Darren Bravo flourished briefly in both innings, with a top score of 50 in the first and 31 in the second. He then fell in a soft dismissal reflecting the inability of the Caribbean team to play the longer innings required to save the Test.
The rest of the Sri Lankan bowling backed up Herath well perhaps with the exception of Tharindu Kaushal.
The 22-year-old tested recently for suspect action and cleared later to bowl other than the doosra appeared clearly to have been mentally hit.
For Sri Lanka it was the launch of the new era after the exit of the legends, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
It will also be a welcome return to the winning ways after their series defeats to both Pakistan and India at home.
“We had chances and we did not take them,” said West Indian captain Jason Holder. “Hopefully we can set things right in the next game.”