Rangana Herath is a 'wily old fox' says Dinesh Chandimal following his match-winning spell in Abu Dhabi

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Rangana Herath celebrates a wicket.

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal has described Rangana Herath as a “wily old fox”, saying he would love to continue playing alongside him during the rest of his career.

With Herath aged 39, he proved that there’s plenty left in the tank on the final day with a stellar display as Sri Lanka condemned Pakistan to a 21-run loss in the first Test – their first Test defeat in Abu Dhabi since 2010.

The spinner claimed his 100th wicket against Pakistan and his 400th Test scalp, finishing with 11-139 including a second innings 6-43 as Pakistan were all out for 114 in their chase of 136 on day five.

And Chandimal had nothing but praise for the veteran following his heroic performance in the UAE capital.

“First of all, I have to say Rangana is a team man,” said the 27-year-old, who won his first Test match as skipper. “He is supportive to me and the players with what he has learnt from cricket.

“Every young player goes to talk to him about his bowling and experiences. He is a wily old fox. He’s a good asset to the team.

“Looking to the future, yes, he is 39, a little bit old now, but he always tries to do his best.

“I just want him throughout my career. I have no idea how long he is going to play, but I am sure he will do what he can for the team.”

The win sees them bounce back from their 3-0 home series defeat to India and the batsman, who scored a century in the first innings to set up the victory, said there’s a vibrant atmosphere within the camp.

“We are a family. We didn’t feel that heat as we were binding as a family,” he said. “That is the difference we had in this game.

“The credit goes to all the players. They played some really good cricket. We did more work on our fitness and fielding, and discipline. Everyone put their heart and soul into the practices, and the management put lots of hard work in.”

Both sides travel to Dubai with Sri Lanka knowing if they avoid defeat in the second day-night Test from Friday, they will seal the two-match series.

But Chandimal is wary of a backlash from Pakistan.

“We all know Pakistan are a very good team,” he said. “We never underestimated them. This win will boost our morale.

“For the next game also, we just want to do our basics right because we know they are really good and can be dangerous at any time. As a team, we need to prepare for that.”

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Rangana Herath enters 400-wicket club as Sri Lanka record 21-run win over Pakistan

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Rangana Herath

Rangana Herath became the second Sri Lankan to bag 400 wickets as his six-wicket haul steered Sri Lanka to a thrilling 21-run win over Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The veteran left-arm spinner took 6-43 – 11-136 in the match – to scupper Pakistan, set a modest 136-run target, for just 114 on a weary fifth day Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.

The victory was achieved when Herath trapped last man Mohammad Abbas leg before for nought to give Sri Lanka a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Herath, a long-time nemesis of Pakistan, also completed 100 wickets in 20 Tests against them, during an innings in which only debutant Haris Sohail fought with some resolve for his 34 runs.

Herath became the 14th most successful bowler in all Test cricket and fifth spinner behind his countryman Muttiah Muralitharan, Australia’s Shane Warne and the Indian duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to reach the 400-wicket milestone.

An unassuming Herath said he didn’t know why he always took wickets against Pakistan.
“I have no idea,” said Herath, who took 22 wickets against Pakistan in 2014 – a world record for a two-match series.

“Maybe I have played more against them, that’s why.

“I am so happy with the remarkable achievement (400 wickets).”Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed called the defeat “disappointing”.

“We should have won this,” said Ahmed, skippering his side for the first time in a Test. “We have a few issues, especially in the fifth day when we come under pressure.”

The 136 set Pakistan was Sri Lanka’s lowest defended target, improving on the 168 they set the Pakistanis in the Galle Test in 2009. It was also a first defeat for Pakistan at this venue in 10 Tests.

Earlier, leg-spinner Yasir Shah took 5-51 – his 32nd five wicket haul in Tests – to dismiss Sri Lanka for 138 in their second innings.

Niroshan Dickwella ensured Sri Lanka had something to defend with a pugnacious 40.

Pakistan started the chase on a shaky note when Herath dismissed opener Sami Aslam for two before accounting for Asad Shafiq, who made 20.

Herath had taken 5-93 in Pakistan’s first innings of 422 and this time he shared the new ball with Suranga Lakmal to put Pakistan in trouble with regular wickets.

Perera then had Shan Masood (seven) and a shaky Babar Azam for three to leave Pakistan struggling at 32-4.

In between fast bowler Lakmal had Azhar Ali caught behind for nought.

On the either side of tea, Sohail and Ahmed (19) fought hard to sticth a 42-run stand but Herath provided the breakthrough when he forced the Pakistan skipper out of his crease and had him stumped by Dickwella.

Perera ended Sohail’s fight by trapping him leg before and also had Shah but it turned out to be a no-ball, halting Sri Lanka’s celebrations, eventually provided by Herath.

Pakistan, led by Shah, bowled well in the morning.

Sri Lanka, who resumed at 69-4, lost their last six wickets for 69 runs but Dickwella still put up a lone fight – hitting four boundaries – and more importantly giving Sri Lanka a target to fight.

Pakistan were given two key wickets by medium fast bowler Mohammad Abbas who finished with 2-22.

It was then left to Shah who on consecutive deliveries dismissed Perera for six and then had Herath caught by close in fielder to complete his fourth consecutive five wicket haul in as many Tests.

Dickwella then took a rearguard action, shielding the number 10 Lakshan Sandakan from the bowling during a resistance-packed ninth wicket stand of 34 which came in 10.1 overs.

Shah finally had Sandakan caught at point while Hasan Ali (1-21) ended the innings by bowling Nuwan Pradeep, leaving Dickwell’s fight stranded.

The second Test – a day-night match – starts in Dubai from Friday.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Steve Smith blames Australia's poor decisions for India loss

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Steve Smith.

Australia skipper Steve Smith has blamed his team’s poor decision making under pressure after their demoralising 4-1 loss to India in the one-day internationals.

The visitors suffered a seven-wicket thrashing in the final ODI in Nagpur on Sunday to slip to third in the world rankings. They started the series in second spot.

The latest defeat was Australia’s 12th loss in their last 15 ODIs away from home – a worrying loss of form for the team just two months ahead of a home Ashes series against England.

“We’re just not taking our words out in the middle and doing it with actions. We have glimpses of it and we play well in periods and then we just get ourselves in trouble,” Smith told reporters in Nagpur.

“Probably from poor decision making under pressure, that’s what I probably put it down to.

That’s something that we need to improve on because it’s not good enough.”

Australia, who came to India off the back of a disappointing Test series in Bangladesh that ended 1-1, failed to capitalise on favourable positions throughout their four losses.

The visitors allowed India to reach 281-7 after having them reeling at 87-5 in the first ODI. The Australian batsmen also faltered against India’s wrist spinners.

“Probably lacking consistency with the bat I’d say … I think we’re losing wickets in clumps very consistently and that’s not good enough,” said Smith.

“We probably didn’t adapt as well as we would have liked.”

Top Australian batsmen were guilty of not converting their starts into bigger scores, costing the visitors against a formidable Indian side.

Smith’s own form with the bat was not up to his usual high standards in the five matches, scoring 142 runs with two half-centuries. David Warner and Aaron Finch were the only Australian batsmen to make centuries.

“I wasn’t feeling great at the start of the series to be honest. I wasn’t holding the bat the way I would have liked to,” said Smith.

“As the leader of the team it’s been disappointing but I guess sometimes that’s cricket. You have those periods where you’re not getting the scores you like.

“It’s something hopefully I can turn around and hopefully contribute in the T20s.”

Smith played his 100th ODI in the series, having made his debut back in 2010.

Australia now head to Ranchi for the three-match Twenty20 series starting Saturday. The second and third T20s will be played on October 10 and 13 in Guwahati and Hyderabad.

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