SL’s best test wins ||Through the eyes of a Sri Lankan fan

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Recently Sri Lanka played its 250th test match and I thought it’s the best time to discuss about some great test wins. To this date Sri Lanka has played 261 test matches where they could win 78 matches and have lost 89 matches and 70 matches with no results. Within the 78 wins, let’s try spot out few of them. There is no rating for the won matches. Also the matches discussed here were selected from my watched match list and selection was based on some criteria. Venue, opponent, best way to win a match, memorable moments, specialty of win and the key contributions to the win are few of the criteria. Again, I recon these wins are best wins; someone may critic on the selection which is his/her perspective. And the matches are listed in the played order where the old one is listed first.

First Ever Test Win in England Soil

First among the list was played at Oval, in 1998 against England. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to field. Though Murali could pick up 7 wickets for 155 runs, England managed to post a mammoth total of 445 for their first innings. No one would have thought SL will fight back. But Sri Lanka could post a total of 591 with the help of Sanath Jayasuriyas’ double century (213) and Aravinda’s 152. By the third session of the fourth day, it was clear that England was playing for a draw and lost 2 wickets for 54 in their second innings as close of the day. The magic happened in the fifth day. When Muralitharan rattled England by claiming nine wickets for 65 runs while other wicket fell was a run out, England could put 181 in the score board after resisting for 129 overs. Sri Lanka needed 35 to win in the second innings and they achieved the target in 5 overs without losing any wicket.

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A Narrowest Second Innings Score to Win

Next one was in 2001 against India in Galle. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to field and they succeeded in the decision too. India lost 5 wickets in the first day and were all out for just 187. For the first innings Sri Lanka managed to post a total of 362 and got a first innings lead of 175. Both Sangakkara and Jayasuriya scored centuries. For their second innings India could manage to score only 180 and thus set a target of 6 runs to win for Sri Lanka in their second innings. It’s one of the second lowest target set to win in a fourth innings. Finally Sri Lanka won the match by 10 wickets.

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Sanath’s Double Ton at Faisalabad

My next choice is from the 2004/05 season against Pakistan in Faisalabad. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat. Later they may have regretted the decision made by the total, 243 they could post. Only Thilan Samaraweera finished with a good batting of 100. Any of others couldn’t pass even 40. Fortunately Sri Lanka could restrict Pakistan to 264 in their first innings. Sri Lanka’s second innings was outstanding. With the help of Jaysuriya’s double century Sri Lanka managed to score 438 and the saddest part of the story was Sri Lanka’s last six scored only 11 runs. Pakistan was set a target of 418 to score in the second innings with 5 sessions to be played. Both Herath and Dilhara Fernando picked four wickets each and Pakistan could score only 216 runs which resulted a 201 runs win for Sri Lanka.

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The Record Partnership of two Good Friends.

The next choice of mine is a record breaking match. It was during South Africa’s visit to Sri Lanka in year 2006. First test of the series was played in SSC and South Africa chose to bat after winning the toss. But their decision was destroyed by Murali and Dilhara Fernando both claimed 4 wickets each. South Africa could score only 169 in their first innings. Sri Lanka started their second innings very badly and lost their openers just for 14 runs. But the magic happened after that. Mahela and Sangakkara made a record breaking partnership of 624 which is the highest partnership for any wicket till date. When the score board displayed the score of 638, Sangakkara got out for 287. Mahela scored his career best score of 374 which is the highest score by a Sri Lankan in test matches. Sri Lanka scored 756 for 5 wickets which is the third total for Sri Lanka in test and let South African to start their second innings. After playing for five sessions and resisting for 157 overs, South African could score only 434 for their second innings. Finally Sri Lanka won the match by an innings and 153 runs.

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Tons by Sangakkara & Chamara Silva and Malinga’s five for.

The second test in New Zealand tour in 2006/07 season is the next pick of the favorite list. The match was played in Wellington in which Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. Sri Lanka’s decision was destroyed by both New Zealand seamers and spinners. The bowlers allowed Sri Lanka to score only 268 within 65 overs. Sri Lankan score card had 5 ducks and the fourth best score is 10 which came as extras. The one man army Sangakkara ,once again up lift Sri Lanka with classy 156 not out off 192 balls which consist 21 fours and a six .New Zealand proved the pitch in replying their first innings. On the first day, 4 of New Zealand wickets were fallen for 66 runs. Finally Sri Lanka restricted New Zealand to 130 where Lasith Malinga claimed a five for. After having a first innings lead of 138, Sri Lanka managed to post a total of 365 runs in the second innings. Chamara Silva scored 156 not out who scored the second best of the SL first innings. A target of 504 was set for New Zealand to win. With the tight bowling of Sri Lankans, New Zealand could score only 286 and the fell 217 runs short. In terms of runs this is one of Sri Lanka’s best wins in overseas

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Rangana Herath’s Magic from Nowhere…

A home test win becomes my next pick in the list, first test match in the Pakistan’s tour in 2009 season which was played in Galle. It is a match which had the magical see-saw twists. Pakistan won the toss and chose to field and Sri Lanka could manage to score 292 in the first innings. Pakistan’s strong reply gave them a lead of 50 runs in the first innings. Pakistan bowlers rattled down Sri Lanka to a total of 217 and an easy target of 168 was set to win for Pakistan. By the stumps of day three, Pakistan were 71 for 2 and requiring another 97 more runs to win while 2 more days were in hand. On the fourth day morning, Herath’s magic worked out for Sri Lanka. Three consecutive wickets just for 1 run turned the match. Herath picked up 4 wickets for 15 runs and Pakistan was bowled out for 117 within the first session of fourth day. Finally Sri Lanka won the match by 50 runs which came from nowhere.

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First Test win South Africa.

The first ever tests win in South Africa (unfortunately till date it’s the only win in South Africa) was picked as the next favorite. Second match of the two match test series was played in Durban under the captaincy of Dilshan. Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat first. Though Dale Steyn dealt with yorkers and bouncers at one end, Thilan Samarawera tested South African’s bowlers with his patience 102. Sri Lanka could post a total of 338 for the first innings. Surprisingly, Welagedara’s five for and Herath’s four for lead South Africa to score only 168 all out within 54 overs. With the handful lead of 170, Sri Lanka started their second innings with confidence. With Kumar Sangakkara’s century Sri Lanka scored 279 runs where a target of 450 was set with 5 sessions to spare. More importantly Chandimal hit half centuries in both Sri Lankan innings. With the help of Herath’s five for Sri Lanka restricted South African to 241 and claimed a big win by 208 runs. Specially umpires allowed to extra few overs on the fourth day after having both captain’s agreement.

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Historic Win off Premature Ball

The historic win against England in Headingly in 2014 is the next selection to the beloved list. After losing toss Sri Lanka scored 257 for the first innings and fell down within first day. With the 150 runs second wicket partnership, England scored a hand full of 365 for the first innings. England took control after posting a 108 runs lead in the first innings. In reply Sri Lanka scored a mammoth total of 457 with the help of captain’s knock of 160 by Angelo Mathews. With four sessions to spare, England was set a target of 350. From the inception of second innings of England, they chose the defensive approach. But Sri Lanka’s quicks made the life of England hard by claiming 5 wickets for 57 runs by the end of fourth day. By fourth day, Sri Lanka was in the driving seat, needed to pick 5 wickets for a famous win in England. But Moen Ali’s patience innings was tested Sri Lankans. As England lost 7 wickets for 160 runs with 45 overs to bowl, it was a complete Sri Lanka’s game. England’s lower order tested Sri Lanka much and at one stage frustrations of Sri Lankans showed this match was going to be a draw. Specially Broad and Anderson batted for 112 balls without scoring a single run. Last over of the match to be bowled by Shaminda Eranga and Anderson was ready to face the mighty six balls. Anderson could get rid of first four balls somehow though the four balls were classy and close enough to be nailed. The premature ball was made the history, while Anderson’s decision to leave the ball hit his gloves and went to a catch to Herath, Anderson’s tears after the wicket showed the pain of their break even of the hard work made all the day.

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Last Test Appearance of Legendary Mahela

The next pick was from a famous test series where the legendary Mahela played his last test appearance. The first test match of Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2014 season was played in Galle. After winning the toss Pakistan scored a huge total of 451 runs for their first innings. Sri Lanka’s reply was simply awesome with the double century of Sangakkara. The farewell hero, Mahela also hit a half century. At one stage Sri Lanka were 3 for 438 but with the usual Sri Lanka’s batting collapse Sri Lanka scored 533 for 9 wickets down. Until the fifth day morning this match was leading towards a draw. But in the fifth day morning Herath’s spin destroyed Pakistan once again in Galle. His 6 for 48 resulted Pakistan a second innings score of 180. With less than 20 overs to be played Sri Lanka was set a target of 99 runs. To honour Mahela Sri Lanka cricket decided to open Mahela in expectation of the winning runs to be hit by him. But unfortunately he got out for 28 with the score remains at 59. With the expectations of showers later, Sri Lanka needed to change the gears. Kithuruwan Withanage was promoted ahead of Kaushal Silva and Niroshan Dickwella to join with the captain Mathews after Sangakkara got out. 19 runs were scored in 15th over and Mathews hit the famous winning six as the rain comes. The commentator mentioned that Sri Lanka beat everything even the rain.

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Chandimal’s Brisk 162

The first test against India during the India’s tour in 2015 season was picked as the next. This is also one of the matches where Sri Lanka won the match from nowhere. Like the previous selection, this match was the Sri Lanka’s batting legend Kumar Sangakkara’s last appearance in Galle where he could score only 45 runs in both innings. After winning the toss Sri Lanka decided to bat first and failed in the decision made after being all out for 183 runs in 50 overs in their first innings. In reply, with 2 hundreds from S Dhawan & V Kohli, India managed to score 375 all out with securing a lead of 192. Sri Lanka’s second innings was struggled after losing both the openers too early and at one stage the score card showed 3 for 5. With the little contributions from Mathews & Sangakkara Sri Lanka built the innings up to 5 for 92. The cameo happened later by Dinesh Chandimal where he scored a quick 162 off 169 balls. Four sixes and 19 fours hit in the Chandimal’s innings shows us his striking to Indian bowlers. It all happened before the completion of third day. By the stumps of third day India were 23 for 1. With requiring 153 runs to score with 9 wickets in hand and two days to spare, it was an India’s match. But with the 7 wicket haul of magical Herath India were rattled down to a total of 112 which lead Sri Lanka to win by 63 runs. It was a surprised gift to every Sri Lankan cricket fans.

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Top Order Collapse and Contribution from Middle & Lower Order

The last pick is from the recently concluded test series against Australia. The first test of Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2016 season played at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. The series was named as Warne-Muralitharan Trophy by recognizing the two spin legends of both the nations. Sri Lankan amateur test team was to be tested by the skillful Australian players. It was proved with Sri Lanka started to bat after winning the toss. Sri Lanka got all out for just 117 runs within34 overs. In reply Australia also struggled to score many runs and none of the Australians could score a half century. Australia scored only 203 runs with a pretty lead of 86 runs. In Sri Lank’s second innings, Sri Lanka could manage to score 353 runs with the help of fearless Kusal Mendis’ 176 runs and the contribution of the lower order. A target of 268 runs was set to score with four sessions to spare. By the close of fourth day play, Australia was 3 down for 83 runs. Only 185 runs to be scored to win with having 7 wickets in hand as Australians started the play on the fifth day. This became anyone’s match but Sri Lankans could bowled out Australia for just 161 runs and claimed a victory by 106 runs. This time also Herath’s magical spell brought a five for while mystery Sandakan who picked a four for in Australia’s first innings also picked up 3 wickets. No one would have thought this win after Sri Lanka falling only to 117 runs in the first innings.

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