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Rangana Herath (second left) was at the heart of a stunning Sri Lanka comeback

Sri Lanka comeback stuns India

WT24 Desk

Rangana Herath took seven wickets to power Sri Lanka to a 63-run win over India on the fourth day of their opening test at Galle on Saturday.

In the first of a three-Test series, Sri Lanka trailed for most of the match after being bowled out on the opening day for 183.  But the host s dismantled the Indian order, with 37-year-old Herath adding six wickets to his overnight dismissal of opening batsman Lokesh Rahul in a superb display of left-arm spin bowling. India, who resumed the day on 23-1, were out for 112 an hour after lunch, with Tharindu Kaushal, who took five wickets in the first innings, picking up three more in the second.

Ajinkya Rahane (36) offered some resistance for India, before falling victim to Herath, edging to home captain Angelo Mathews at slip. Sri Lanka had looked destined for defeat on 95-5 on Friday after conceding a first-innings lead of 192, but Dinesh Chandimal’s unbeaten 162 sparked a fightback as they set India a victory target of 176. The hosts, who lost their last Test series at home to Pakistan, then increased the pressure on India with tight bowling and some smart catches.

India struggled to find scoring opportunities, highlighted by first-innings centurion Shikhar Dhawan, unbeaten on 13 overnight, taking 36 balls to score his first run in the morning. Herath, who went wicketless in the first innings, then struck with his first ball of the day, trapping nightwatchman Ishant Sharma lbw.  He then took the wickets of Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin, while Kaushal picked up India captain Virat Kohli before taking a sharp return catch to send back Dhawan.

Amit Mishra was the final man out to Kaushal, sparking wild Sri Lankan celebrations.  Their captain Angelo Mathews said: “What a turnaround this has been, I am quite speechless. “It was a great effort to come back from where we were. “Chandimal was outstanding and he single-handedly got us to a fighting score. The wicket was pretty demanding and we knew it won’t be an easy target to chase.

Indian captain Virat Kohli refused to make excuses, admitting: “We did not counter what was being thrown at us. We should have been more smart with how we play the spinners.
“The need of the hour in the second innings was to take calculated risks, but the intent was lacking. It should be a lesson for all and we need to improve on that.
“Everyone in the squad is disappointed. We were let down by our batting. There are no excuses. It was a case of us not playing fearless cricket. We were very tentative.”

The second Test, which will be the last for retiring Sri Lankan batting stalwart Kumar Sangakkara, will start on Thursday in Colombo, Sky Sports reports.

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