Rangana Herath, the wily old left-arm spinner, produced a spell of guile, bite and turn to dismantle the Indian batting line-up in their pursuit of what had seemed like a manageable target.
Rangana Herath, 7-48
Sri Lanka v India
1st Test, India tour of Sri Lanka
August 12-15, 2015
Chasing anything over 150 can often be an onerous task in the sub-continent owing to the tendency of the dry, spin-friendly pitches to start breaking and dusting up, but it seemed like Galle was shaping up as an exception.
Afterall, Sri Lanka had just scored 367 on the pitch, riding on a brilliant 162* from Dinesh Chandimal, which came off just 169 deliveries. That effort helped Sri Lanka set up a decent chase despite them having flopped in their first innings.
India, who had stacked up 375 in their first essay, would still have been reasonably confident of their chances. But the first signs of the things to come arrived late on the third evening as Rangana Herath trapped KL Rahul in front with one that skid on quickly. India went to stumps at 23-1 with Shikhar Dhawan – their first-innings centurion – still at the crease.
If India had harboured confidence going into the fourth day, it didn’t take long for Herath to ruthlessly destroy it. First he trapped the nightwatchman Ishant Sharma in front with the straighter one, and then spun one past Rohit Sharma’s defensive prod to disturb timber.
Those two wickets defined Herath’s modus operandi for the day, as he kept foxing batsmen with a mix of straighter ones and turners, targetting the stumps all the while. There wasn’t anything too fancy about what Herath was doing – the variations were delicate and subtle – rather it was a display of ruthless efficiency.
India were bowled out for 112 and the highest partnership in that total was worth just 21 runs. Herath, 37 at the time, had sent down 21 overs out of the 49.5 the visitors faced.
30.3 Wriddhiman Saha 2 (11) st Chandimal b Herath
There wasn’t much to pick between Herath’s several wicket-taking deliveries, but this one makes the cut on account of some sharp glovework from Dinesh Chandimal, which added to the appeal. It was a slightly more flighted ball on off, luring Saha out of his crease, only to then deceive him with turn and bounce. Even Chandimal was deceived and had to jump in order to catch the ball, but he did a neat job of it in the end, giving him ample time to whip the bails off.