Dil­ruwan’s five-for seals mem­o­rable se­ries sweep

The Miracle - - Sports -

Like waves break­ing upon a cliff, Sri Lanka’s bowlers kept com­ing at Pak­istan, un­til even­tu­ally, the hosts frac­tured and tum­bled into the sea. So tan­ta­lis­ingly had the match been poised overnight, per­haps the end­ing was even a lit­tle an­ti­cli­mac­tic. Sri Lanka’s mar­gin of vic­tory was 68 runs - a com­fort­able win by most stan­dards. Though Sar­fraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq had be­gun con­fi­dently, the vis­i­tors needed only 5.5 overs to break that part­ner­ship, and about 90 min­utes in all to wipe out the lower half of the Pak­istan in­nings. The se­ries had been swept, com­pletely un­ex­pect­edly, 2-0. Dil­ruwan Per­era was Sri Lanka’s pri­mary bowl­ing fig­ure on day five, as he had been through­out the in­nings, claim­ing two fur­ther wick­ets to com­plete a fourth ca­reer five-wicket haul. He also took that vi­tal wicket of Sar­fraz to break the mighty re­sis­tance Pak­istan’s six­th­wicket part­ner­ship had mounted. Ran­gana Herath, who had had an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally quiet fourth-in­nings un­til then, took two wick­ets of his own, and Su­ranga Lak­mal had Shafiq caught at slip. Af­ter the bat­ter­ing Sri Lanka had re­ceived at home, at In­dia’s hands, this se­ries vic­tory must surely rank among the most sur­pris­ing re­sults of their Test his­tory. On the Sri Lankan bal­cony, sup­port staff were ec­static, while on the field Di­nesh Chandi­mal led elated cel­e­bra- tions. The joy was jus­ti­fied: not count­ing the win in a one-off Test against Zim­babwe, this was Sri Lanka’s first Test se­ries vic­tory in al­most a year. Pak­istan, mean­while, have had a dis­ap­point­ing start to life post Mis­bah-ul-Haq and You­nis Khan. Sar­fraz and Shafiq needed to see out seven overs be­fore the sec­ond new ball be­came avail­able, but Sar­fraz’s wicket ex­posed the tail pre­ma­turely. That Shafiq pro­gressed to an out­stand­ing 11th Test hun­dred was al­most for­got­ten in the fi­nal wash-up. He fin­ished on 112 off 176 balls. The part­ner­ship with Sar­fraz was worth 173. For the first time, Pak­istan have lost a Test se­ries since mov­ing base to the UAE. The pre­vi­ous four ses­sions of this match were prac­ti­cally drip­ping with drama, and day five also be­gan with a lit­tle ex­cite­ment. Shafiq glanced the sec­ond ball of the day to the fine leg fence to move into the 90s, be­fore Sar­fraz cracked a four be­hind point next over. Then, Sri Lanka had three near misses. Kaushal Silva swooped on the ball from point, but could not ef­fect the di­rect hit that might have seen a div­ing Shafiq run-out for 95. A few balls later, Sar­fraz had dragged his back foot out of the crease while at­tempt­ing a sweep, but wick­et­keeper Niroshan Dick­wella could not quite get the bails off in time. Fi­nally, af­ter Shafiq had com­pleted a cen­tury off the 151st de­liv­ery he faced, Dimuth Karunaratne dropped him at slip off the bowl­ing of Dil­ruwan. Hands be­gan to go to Sri Lankan heads. Sar­fraz and Shafiq had pro­gressed so fault­lessly on day four, that it seemed un­likely many more chances would come. Then, sud­denly: the break­through. Dil­ruwan got a ball to drift in to­wards the bats­man, and Sar­fraz - aim­ing a hard, flat sweep - man­aged only to get a thick top-edge to the ball. The man at long leg, Nuwan Pradeep, al­most got tan­gled up in his own legs, but did well enough to take the catch cleanly. With only seven de­liv­er­ies to be bowled be­fore the sec­ond new ball was due, Sri Lanka had struck. The re­main­ing bats­men fell with­out no­table re­sis­tance. Mo­ham­mad Amir was out to a Dil­ruwan slider off the ninth ball. Yasir Shah was stumped off Herath, at­tempt­ing a giant heave. Lak­mal shaped a ball away from Shafiq - who had not quite looked him­self af­ter get­ting to tri- ple fig­ures - and Kusal Mendis took an­other ex­cel­lent tum­bling catch at slip. The fi­nal bat­ting act of the se­ries be­longed to Wa­hab Riaz. At­tempt­ing to wal­lop Herath out of the ground, he wound up only send­ing a catch high in the air, to Chandi­mal at cover. On Sri Lanka’s bal­cony, cricket man­ager Asanka Gu­rus­inha broke into an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally wide grin, and wrapped in­terim coach Nic Pothas up in a bear hug. For Sar­fraz, it was a re­turn to earth, af­ter his cap­taincy had be­gun so suc­cess­fully with the vic­tory at the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy. For Chandi­mal, a vic­tory in the first full se­ries he has cap­tained - the Zim­babwe match was a one-off, and he had not played the first match against In­dia - has helped put some be­lief in his team, a qual­ity that had pre­vi­ously been lack­ing. A se­ries that was en­livened by a litany of twists has thrown up a star­tling re­sult. Source: Cricinfo

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