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Herath, Mendis clinch for Test from Australia

PALLEKELE: Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath backed up centurion Kusal Mendis  superlative effort to stun top-ranked Australia by 106 runs in the rain-affected first Test in Pallekele on Saturday.

Herath, 38, grabbed 5-54 to help the hosts bundle out Australia for 161 on the fifth and final day after they were set a challenging 268 in the second innings.

Australian skipper Steven Smith posted a gritty half-century before Steve O Keefe and Peter Nevill frustrated Sri Lanka with a 178-ball partnership.

Herath bagged the last Australian wicket to fall by cleaning up O Keefe to trigger wild celebration in the Lankan camp. This was Sri Lanka s only second Test win against Australia in 27 matches.

It was batsman Mendis (176) who set up the unlikely win for Sri Lanka with his superb maiden ton in his team s second innings after the hosts overcame an 86-run deficit.

The 21-year-old Mendis, the only centurion in a low-scoring contest, played a memorable 254-ball knock laced with 21 fours and a six.

“Special knock by a special young player. Fantastic effort,” an elated Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews said at the post-match presentation.

For Lankan spinners it was a race against time as rain threatened to thwart their chances of upsetting firm favourites Australia but Herath had other ideas in mind. – AFP