On Monday, in a second Test impacted by protests and Covid-19, Dinesh Chandimal’s double century and debutant Prabhat Jayasuriya’s outstanding bowling propelled Sri Lanka to a victory over Australia that tied the series at one game each.
On the fourth day of the match, which had been marked by dramatic scenes outside the Galle stadium due to political unrest in the island nation, the hosts easily defeated Australia by an innings and 39 runs.
However, Chandimal gave the home crowd joy two days later with an unbeaten 206 in Sri Lanka’s 554 all out, as the hosts managed to take a 190-run lead in the first innings.
As the hosts recovered from their opening loss to tie the series at 1-1, left-arm spinner Jayasuriya took six wickets to bring his match total to 12 and help dismiss Australia for 151 in the final session on day 4.
In addition to saying that the players were there “to play cricket,” captain Dimuth Karunaratne told reporters that their goal was to make people smile.
He was upset and said, “I don’t want to mention what we are going through.” Unfortunately, that is what we are experiencing.
The second day’s morning session saw numerous protesters attempting to descend on the Galle fort to call for the resignation of Sri Lanka’s president, who had fled his home on Saturday just before a sizable crowd of demonstrators stormed it.
Test captain for Australia Pat Cummins said they gained new insight from their trips to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, where they won both sets of tests 1-0.
“We basically stayed at home for two years during Covid, and our last two tours were to Pakistan, where we hadn’t played for 20 or so years, and now Sri Lanka, in the midst of a crisis-ridden nation,” Cummins told reporters.
Protests are taking place all over the stadium, which brings home how fortunate we are to be traveling the world but also, in some ways, how important it is to be here for more than just the cricket because you can see the effects it can have.
Party to protests
Cummins added, “You could hear when it changed from protests to a party.
The visitors scored 364 runs, including an unbeaten 145 from Steve Smith in the first innings, but their batting struggled in the second.
Before tea, off-spinner Ramesh Mendis bowled David Warner out for 24 runs, and in the final session, left-arm spinner Jayasuriya quickly took over, returning Usman Khawaja (29) and Steve Smith (0) in a single over to spook the opposition batting.
With another twin strike, the 30-year-old Jayasuriya, who had six wickets in the first innings, added to the damage and exposed the Australians’ frailties.
Ramesh and rookie spinner Maheesh Theekshana each claimed two wickets, and Jayasuriya secured the final one to spark celebrations in the Sri Lankan camp and spectators.
Jayasuriya surpassed Praveen Jayawickrama, who took 11 wickets in his first Test last year, with the best match statistics by a Sri Lankan bowler on their debut: 12-177.
However, Chandimal orchestrated the victory after launching an attack on the opposing bowlers and scoring his final 47 runs in just 28 balls.
Following the dismissal of Jayasuriya for zero runs, Chandimal, who on Sunday scored his thirteenth Test century, faced the opposing bowlers as he surpassed his previous best of 164.
The 32-year-old leaped in joy amid raucous applause from the crowd as he smashed left-arm fast Mitchell Starc for a 4 and two sixes on consecutive balls to go past 200.
Pathum Nissanka, the opening batsman, became the sixth Sri Lankan to contract the virus over the past two weeks when he was ruled out with Covid-19 prior to the start of play on Monday.
Australia won the three-match Twenty20 series during the five-week tour by a score of 2-1, but lost the one-day international series by a score of 3-2 to the hosts.