The visiting Pakistan national cricket team beat Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the first Test at Galle today.
The Pakistanis were assisted by a seven-wicket haul from Pakistan bowler Yasir Shah and some poor batting by the Sri Lankans.
Trailing by 54 runs and with eight wickets in hand, Sri Lanka began day five of the Test match looking to save the game.
However the Sri Lankans, who scored 300 runs in their first innings, lost their last seven wickets for 74 runs, and were all out for 206 runs in the second innings.
Pakistan, who scored 417 runs in the first innings, needed just 90 runs to win the match and they scored the runs in the 12th over of their second innings.
Questions were raised in the manner captain Angelo Mathews was given out. Earlier Lahiru Thirimanne made 44 good runs before edging Wahab Riaz to slip while playing an ambitious on-the-up drive. Dimuth Karunatne gritted it out for 173 balls before getting stumped attempting an atrocious heave against Yasir. Trying to hit himself out of the vice-like grip exerted by the spinners, Kithuruwan Vithanage holed out at deep square leg. Had they stayed in for a further 20 overs, cumulatively, and scored an extra 50 runs, Pakistan’s fourth-innings task may have been a lot more challenging.
But the Mathews wicket was still pivotal, both in terms of importance and timing. Wahab Riaz had struck just before lunch to break a 69-run fourth-wicket stand between Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne; now Mathews was facing the second ball after lunch.
Mathews was done in by the limits of two-dimensional replays to determine what happened in a three-dimensional world. The ball from Yasir slid on with the angle and as Mathews pressed forward to defend, it either brushed his inside edge or slid past it, before bouncing off his front pad into short leg’s hands.
Umpire Richard Illingworth gave it out, and Mathews immediately reviewed. Split-screen replays suggested Mathews might not have edged it, with the ball appearing to have passed the bat while viewed from the square-on angle when bat and ball were closest together from the front-on angle. Whether that was conclusive evidence or not is debatable; the third umpire thought not, and Illingworth’s decision stood.
Last year, in a Test match between the same sides at the same ground, Sri Lanka took an 82-run first innings lead. At the start of the final day, Pakistan were 4 for 1 in their second innings. A draw looked the likeliest result, but Rangana Herath spun Pakistan out for 180 before Sri Lanka galloped to their target of 99 at a run a ball, with rain lurking around the corner.
Now, the circumstances were neatly reversed, and Pakistan needed someone to step up and match Herath’s performance. They found their man in Yasir.
The second Test between both teams will be played in Colombo on Thursday while the third Test begins on July 3rd in Kandy. (Colombo Gazette and ESPN Cricinfo)