Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has called Dilruwan Perera a "silent hero" after the offspinner became the first Sri Lanka player to take ten wickets and score a half-century in a Test. Perera was both the most economical and the most penetrative of Sri Lanka's frontline bowlers in the match, taking 10 for 99. In the process he also became the fastest Sri Lankan to 50 Test wickets, achieving the milestone in 11 Tests, to beat Ajantha Mendis, who got there in 12.
His second innings' score of 64 was also higher than any the Australia batsmen have mustered, through the series so far.
"We talk a lot about Rangana Herath, but not as much about Dilruwan," Mathews said after the match. "But he's just become the fastest Sri Lankan to 50 Test wickets. When Murali aiya was there, we didn't speak that much about Rangana, so I guess it's the same thing with Dilruwan. He's a silent hero. In the last match he didn't bowl well, but he was very diligent and knows how to bowl in Galle. He worked very hard in training with the coaches. He's someone we can get a lot of profit from in the years to come."
Perera said he had realised he'd bowled too quickly in Pallekele, and had watched videos of his own bowling, and worked with spin coach Piyal Wijetunge to redress the problem. He took the key wicket of Australia's top-scorer, David Warner, in each innings, and threatened both edges of virtually every other batsman through the match.
"After having a quiet first Test, he backed his potential and came back really hard," Mathews said. "He was one bowler who the Australians found it really hard to score off, especially on this track."
While much of Australia's pre-series batting plans appeared to revolve around patience and batting long periods, Mathews said an attacking mindset had helped his team reap victory in the series. Mathews was among the most aggressive batsmen in the match, hitting 54 from 65 balls in the first innings, before making 47 from 69 in the second. Sri Lanka's highest scorer in the first innings - Kusal Mendis - had progressed at a strike rate of 63.
"When you're playing on extreme conditions you can't just block the cricket ball," he said. "You're eventually going to get out to short leg or lbw. You've got to start scoring runs. You've got to sweep and reverse sweep. Sometimes you're still going to make mistakes, but you'll find a way to score runs and upset the lines and lengths of the bowlers. We had to be scrappy."
Despite having been instrumental to the victory in Pallekele, Lakshan Sandakan bowled only two balls in the first innings, and six overs in the second, though he did pick up two wickets. Mathews said he simply could not find an opportunity to bring the wristspinner on.
"Each time I wanted to bring Sandakan, either Dilruwan or Rangana got a wicket, so I couldn't change them. Dilruwan looked like taking a wicket every single ball, so I had to just keep bowling him. Herath on the other end just keeps the pressure on the batsman all the time. They were bowling brilliantly and Sandakan didn't get much of a chance to bowl on that wicket."
Having endured a tough seven months until the end of July, and a winless tour of England, Mathews also thanked his team and fans for their support through a tough period.
"Well, my team backed me all the way through, so special thanks to them. Also thanks to SLC for backing us right throughout and also the selectors. They said we'll get a bit of stick when we lose a few games, but if we do our processes right, we will along the way win a few games. To beat the No. 1 team is very satisfying. We also thank the fans for being there with us. It's never an easy task when you lose games to keep persevering. They kept believing in us and supporting us."