Suranga Lakmal rated his 5 for 75 at the Gabba above his recent career-best figures in Christchurch as it allowed him to achieve the dream of a five-wicket haul in Australia on a day when he had to shoulder additional burden with Sri Lanka losing the services of Lahiru Kumara to a hamstring injury.
Kumara, Sri Lanka's fastest bowler, struck in the opening over of the day to remove Marcus Harris but spent the entire last session off the field. He will be sent for scans to reveal the extent of the injury, but bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake feared it could be a tear, which would rule him out of the remainder of the Brisbane Test as well as the second Test in Canberra.
When Dushmantha Chameera also briefly left the field, it meant Lakmal was the lone seamer available. He removed Travis Head and Tim Paine in consecutive balls to lift Sri Lanka, who had seen the match go away from them by the 166-run stand between Head and Marnus Labuschagne. Six overs later, he trapped Kurtis Patterson lbw to make it five-wicket hauls in consecutive Tests after his 5 for 54 against New Zealand.
"I treasure the Australian five-wicket haul much more than anything else," Lakmal said. "I always wanted to take a five-wicket haul in Australia and it's a dream come true. On wickets that help, I try to do my best and I am pretty pleased with my effort."
For a while, it seemed like Lakmal would surpass Ratnayake's 6 for 66 as Sri Lanka's best Test figures in Australia, and the bowling coach gave him a little pep talk when he briefly left the field feeling the effects of the workload.
"When he came in after his fourth wicket to the dressing room for a break, I told him that he shouldn't be in the dressing room but out in the middle," Ratnayake said. "I told him that I saw seven wickets for him in the innings. I told him not to miss the opportunity. Records are there to be broken and I really wanted him to break my record tonight.
"Had he done that, we would have kept them down by 40 runs or so, but all in all I am pretty pleased for him. He really felt that the loss of Lahiru is a huge one for us. So he took the onus on him to finish it off."
In the end, Chameera removed Pat Cummins and Dilruwan Perera claimed last man Jhye Richardson, so Lakmal's figures slotted in at No. 3 for a Sri Lankan in Australia behind Ratnayake's six-for and Chaminda Vaas' 5 for 31 in Darwin in 2004.