Pakistan are 22 runs away from the target with just a solitary wicket in hand. Mohammad Abbas is on strike while Yasir Shah is at the other end. Rangana Herath has the red cherry in hand and has already wreaked havoc by running through the Pakistan batting line-up, he needs to do it just once more to script history.
Herath comes around the wicket, bowls a length ball, which doesn’t turn. The batsman intends to cut it but misses it completely as the ball crashes onto his pads. Herath and his teammates are celebrating, they have unfolded a new chapter in their Test history. There is jubilation in the Sri Lankan dugout while frustration in Pakistan’s. Sri Lanka have successfully defended 136, their lowest ever fourth innings target and handed Pakistan their first ever defeat at Abu Dhabi.
With Abbas’ dismissal, Herath also claimed his 400th Test wicket, the only left-arm spinner to have achieved this milestone. He also has 101 Test wickets against Pakistan and the only man in the history to have such a fantastic record under his belt.
— Chandika Hathu (@CHathurusinghe) October 2, 2017
Sri Lankan cricket is going through a rebuilding phase at the moment, they morale was shattered by India in a three-match Test series at home. And Pakistan was always going to be a tough nut to crack in UAE. They were in dire need of a win, a push to get them going. Herath has rightly provided one.
In the first innings, a total of 841 runs were scored combined between both the teams. There was a possibility of a draw. Pakistan fought fire with fire and responded with 422 to Sri Lanka’s 419. Out of the total 20 wickets that had fallen in the first innings, spinners were responsible for 10.
Pakistan’s top and middle-order scored prolifically to overhaul Sri Lanka’s total. Herath was once again the pick of the bowlers with five scalps to his name. He looked in good rhythm and led the bowling attack with immense confidence.
The game was evenly poised at the end of first innings. Sri Lanka had to set a competitive target for Pakistan to chase and needed to give their bowlers a battling chance in the second or bat for long to conclude draw as a result. Yasir Shah’s fifer dismantled Sri Lanka for 138 and steered Pakistan to command.
Pakistan needed 136 runs to emerge victorious, but with Herath in the opposition and conditions assisting the spinners, it was always going to be a task. Herath infused confidence in Sri Lanka’s fightback by getting rid of Sami Aslam in his very second over when Pakistan had just 4 runs on the board.
A target as big as 136 hardly looks intimidating. A good partnership can dent hopes for the bowling side and Sri Lanka needed to make note of that. They needed to strike on a regular basis and avoid any partnership from flourishing.
Pakistan were in hot water at 36 for 5. Sarfraz Ahmed and Haris Sohail showed immense resistance and stood their ground. The duo threatened to take the game away from Sri Lanka and accounted for 42 runs between them when Herath provided the much-needed breakthrough in the form of Sarfraz.
Moments later, Haris Sohail was trapped leg before by Dilruwan Perera, who was equally supportive from the other end. Herath cleaned up the tail and helped Sri Lanka register an emphatic win. A total of 252 runs were scored in the second innings while 20 wickets had fallen. Spinners accounted for 16 wickets in the second innings.
Sri Lanka have successfully defended a target of less than 250 on four occasions in their Test career and Herath was the key in all the games. Herath played a pivotal role in all the Sri Lankan victories, which came against Pakistan twice, India and West Indies.
Herath is deadly to confront in the fourth innings of a Test match. His 11 fifers in fourth innings of a Test, which is the highest, corroborates the belief. His accuracy and ability to work a batsman out has earned him accolades from around the globe and has exploited the fourth innings conditions to the fullest.
Sri Lanka have gained a solid lead in the two-match series. They now stand an opportunity to register an away series win against a top side, which is rare.