Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan by 10 wickets in the first Test of the three-match series at Galle. The result definitely did not make the Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews happy. He felt that the spinners should have done a better job and that will be the area they will have to work on before the second Test.
Rangana Herath was a big threat to Pakistan before this series, but Misbah ul Haq had told the reporters ahead of the first Test that this time they have an answer to the former's spin mystery and was confident that his side would play him well.
To everyone's surprise, Pakistani batsmen did play Herath well during the first Test at Galle and did not throw their wicket away unlike the last Test they had played in Galle, in 2014 (where Herath took six for 48 and crushed Pakistan almost single-handedly).
Shockingly, Pakistan came into this series without their veteran off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and the pressure automatically shifted upon Yasir Shah and Zulfiqur Babar. Misbah ul haq had requested the fans before the first Test match to bear with youngsters and give them some time to get accustomed to international Test cricket. Babar and Shah picked up 13 wickets and Mohammad Hafeez too added two more scalps to his name.
"I admit that our spinners were not as effective as their spinners on this track - where it was turning from day one. We needed our spinners to fire and fire quickly, but they didn't. I would say Rangana was not as effective as Yasir Shah or Babar was for them. I wouldn't call it being rusty, but unfortunately he couldn't make an impact in this game.
"We're playing a Test match after a few months, and Herath is coming back after an injury. He's having a lot of niggles. He knows he hasn't done well in this game, but hopefully he can bounce back quickly," said Mathews in an interview with Espn Cricinfo.
Shah picked up seven wickets and demolished Sri Lanka's batting lineup in the second innings of the first Test match at Galle. Sri Lanka could only manage to score 206 runs in the second innings, giving Pakistan a target of 90 runs which they accomplished in not time. The Sri Lankan spinners did not make any impact in the second innings and they were taken for plenty by Hafeez and Shehzad.
Sri Lanka were once in command during Pakistan's first innings and they reduced the visitors to 94 for five at a stage. But Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed turned the game for Pakistan with their 139-run partnership and later it was Shafiq and Babar who added some more runs to power the visitors to a total of 417 runs in the first innings.
"I think Shafiq and Sarfraz's partnership was crucial, but still what made the difference was Babar and Shafiq's partnership. That made a massive difference to the game. They were in total control and we were put under lot of pressure. After having them 118 for 5, it was disappointing that they scored another 340 runs. We can't let a number 10 come and get a fifty on this track," added Mathews.