Sri Lanka created history on Saturday as they defeated the No. 1 Test team in the world, Australia, after 17 long years at the Pallekele International Stadium. The Lankan Lions defeated the Aussies by 106 runs in the first Test match of the three-match series.
Kusal Mendis, who played a sensational knock of 176 to help Sri Lanka post 353 runs in their second innings, was announced the man of the match. However, it was Rangana Herath who shined on the final day as he not only claimed the final Australian wicket of Steve O'Keefe but also clinched a total of nine wickets in the match, including 5 for 54 in the second innings.
"Don't have words to explain after a very hard few months. We regrouped, trained really well and prepared to the best. Brilliant effort by the whole team," Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Matthews said after the win. "Credit to Australians, they bowled really well. Not a good effort by our batters in the first innings. We needed that 200-plus lead. Special knock by a special young player [Mendis]. Fantastic effort.
"The old man Herath was brilliant once again. Sandakan a brilliant find for us. We knew this was going to take our turn, Sandakan responded brilliantly. I'm not trying to think about captaincy and the pressure too much."
Australia captain Steve Smith also lauded the Sri Lankan cricketers for their performance.
"Tough week, [but] credit to SL the way they played this week. We let ourselves down with the bat, we weren't disciplined with the bat," said Smith. "Credit to Kusal, 176 turned the game. Tough to come back from there. (Would have been) nice to have a bigger lead than that.
"We have got to find our plans and find ways to play in these conditions. 1-0 down in a three-match series so have to turn it around quickly."