Younus Khan, the Pakistan captain, was left ruing a missed opportunity after Sri Lanka snatched a most unlikely victory in the first Test in Galle yesterday. Younus admitted his men had not considered the possibility of defeat as they went into the morning of the fourth day with eight wickets in hand and needing 97 runs to win. But new Sri Lanka captain, Kumar Sangakkara, who replaced Mahela Jayawardene, was the architect of the shock turnaround after giving left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, a last-minute replacement for injured Muttiah Muralitharan, the nod for the second over of the session.
Herath claimed four wickets, fast bowler Thilan Thushara and Ajantha Mendis collected two apiece and Misbah-ul-Haq was run out but it was the speed of attack early on that stunned Pakistan's batsmen. They subsided from 71 for two to 80 for six inside seven overs thanks to the devastating combination of Herath and Thushara and were eventually all out for 117 within the first session. "The thought of losing this game didn't even occur to me because we were in a good position," said Younus. "We just didn't get the basics right."
Victory was the icing on the cake for Sangakkara who recently became the proud father of twins. "The effort from the team was commendable, but especially Herath who flew straight in here from England and impressed with the effort he put in, as well as Angelo Mathews in his first Test," he said. "The rest of the guys too chipped in at crucial times and Mahela had to baby-sit me a few times through out the innings, but overall it's been a fantastic job."