At Galle, August 4-6. Sri Lanka won by 229 runs. Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debuts: M. V. T. Fernando; J. M. Holland.
A Sri Lanka Cricket sign outside the stadium read "Breakfast in Kandy, Lunch in Galle, Dinner in Colombo". And Sri Lanka's spinners showed their appetite once more, chewing Australia up and spitting them out inside three days. Galle pitches have always turned extravagantly, but this one did not offer the same treacherous, variable bounce as when Australia last visited, in 2011. Then, an away victory was forged through the doughty batting of Michaels Hussey and Clarke, and the tireless bowling of Shane Watson and Ryan Harris. This time, however, only Starc's 11 wickets were worth plucking from a wreckage in which no Australian passed 42.
Sri Lanka's batsmen did not command the field - but they did enough. After Karunaratne flicked the game's first delivery, from Starc, to square leg, their middle order provided the bulk of a first-innings 281 that was no more than decent. They went after the spinners - Lyon and the debutant left-armer Jon Holland - allowing neither to settle, nor exploit the turning surface. Between them, they leaked 142 from 33 overs. Holland, having hurriedly renewed his passport, bowled too full and lacked the assurance of his recent displays for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield.
In reply, Burns pulled left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando's second ball in Test cricket to square leg; but his next over was his last in the game, and he was dropped for the final match. Warner was positive until he edged an off-break to slip just before the close. The next morning was pure chaos. Khawaja was crooked and late on a straight ball, Smith missed a cut off the stumps, and the rest fell away with frightening speed. Herath, who completed a hat-trick (only Sri Lanka's second, after Nuwan Zoysa against Zimbabwe at Harare in 1999-2000) when he trapped Starc lbw on review, and shared the spoils with Dilruwan Perera, bewitching batsmen who lacked plans or comprehension. Sri Lanka's second innings followed a similar pattern to the first. They were brittle against Starc - his searing pace and swing yielding his best innings (six for 50) and match figures (11 for 94) - but bold against the spinners, who struggled once more, despite the ripe conditions. Dilruwan Perera, enjoying a superb match, punched his way to a half century from No. 8, and helped build an intimidating lead. Having lasted barely 33 overs in the first innings, Australia now faced a purely theoretical target of 413 on a worn pitch.
A mid-match team meeting had resulted in a change of tack, exemplified by Voges's rash of reverse sweeps and Smith's sallies down the wicket. But these brainwaves extended the second innings only to 50 overs, all delivered by spinners, and by early afternoon on the third day Sri Lanka were rejoicing in a series win. Dilruwan Perera's ten included a straight one that Khawaja courteously allowed to flatten his off stump, summing up the addled Australian mind. Only weeks before, Mathews had been facing serious criticism of his team and leadership in England. Now he was asked for his opinion of the abject Australians. "They look a bit lost when it comes to our spinners," he said.
Man of the Match: M. D. K. Perera.