Karunaratne hundred gives Sri Lanka six wicket win


Rex Clementine in Galle

Galle has a reputation of posing massive challenges for batsmen on the fourth innings and run chasing here has been next to impossible. The highest successful run chase here until yesterday was 99 and Dimuth Karunaratne helped Sri Lanka rewrite the history books with a gusty hundred as the hosts overcame New Zealand by six wickets yesterday. Not often Test matches in Galle last five days but the first Test yesterday lasted the full distance as Sri Lanka chased down a target of 268 with two sessions to spare.

The win helped Sri Lanka to get their first points in the ICC World Test Championship.

It was Karunaratne’s first Test hundred after 11 games and a timely one too. He added 161 runs for the opening wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne (64), to equal the highest partnership for the opening wicket between these teams. In 1991, John Wright and Trevor Franklin had also posted 161 runs for the opening wicket.

Resuming from the overnight score of 133 for no loss, Sri Lanka needed a further 135 runs to go 1-0 up in the series. To the surprise of the Kiwis, the Galle wicket didn’t have any demons for the batters as it held together. There was turn but it was slow off the pitch and lack of bounce worked to the advantage of the batters.

New Zealand overturned a leg before wicket shout against Thirimanne when he was on 64. Kusal Mendis was in a hurry hitting two boundaries off the second and fourth deliveries he faced but was dismissed in the next over when he failed to clear mid-wicket off Ajaz Patel.

This gave New Zealand an opening as Sri Lanka still required 94 runs. Angelo Mathews and Karunaratne then steadied the ship with a 44 run stand before the captain was dismissed by Tim Southee. New Zealand had gone defensive with Southee operating to a packed off-side field and bowling wide of off-stump. Karunaratne slashed at a wide one and was caught behind.

By that time Sri Lanka needed only 50 more and Mathews with his experience ensured that the target was reached without much full was although Kusal Janith Perera departed for 23.

With 22 runs needed for the win at the scheduled lunch time, the break was delayed until the winning runs were scored. Mathews with a single off Trent Bout to fine leg brought up Sri Lanka’s win.

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