At Colombo (RPS), March 16-19, 2013. Sri Lanka won by seven wickets. Toss: Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka salvaged a victory to emerge from the series with their reputation merely bruised rather than broken. Both teams, perhaps dazed by the run-fest in Galle, misread the pitch and played only one specialist spinner. And it fell to slow left-armer Herath to deliver a Sri Lankan win again: he did so on his 35th birthday, collecting the last four of his 12 for 157 on the fourth morning, before his team-mates surged to their target at nearly four an over.
After Galle, where Herath had managed only two wickets in 66 overs, Sri Lanka may have worried that the Bangladeshis, who are rumoured to possess a slow left-armer in every family, had become immune to bowling of his type. They need not have been concerned. The batsmen may have been familiar with the style, but at the Premadasa they could not contend with Herath's class. He undid Bangladesh with guile, intuition and persistence.
Sri Lanka had sent Bangladesh in on a pitch tinged with green and offering help to bowlers of every persuasion. Their seamers removed the openers, but it was not until Herath began his work that they achieved the upper hand. He claimed five wickets on the first day, most memorably that of Mushfiqur Rahim, who was nailed to the crease by a slew of full, quick deliveries, before being beaten by a shorter one that turned across him and clipped off stump. Mominul Haque had shown his pedigree with 55 on debut in the previous Test, and here he was the only batsman to breach 50. Even so, Sri Lanka's batsmen instantly threatened to hand over the advantage as they stumbled to 69 for four on the second morning. But Sangakkara, who hit his third Test hundred in ten days, and Chandimal lifted them out of the mire by adding 195.
Sangakkara was typically unruffled - his 33rd Test century took him to seventh on the all-time list - though Chandimal began nervously, particularly against Sohag Gazi's offspin, before piecing his defence together and flourishing. Once Sangakkara perished, however, the last four wickets added only 30 - and Mushfiqur completed his fifth catch of the innings, a Bangladesh Test record - so that Sri Lanka's eventual lead was a notquite- decisive 106.
Tamim Iqbal and Jahurul Islam came within 15 runs of swallowing that deficit. But their stand was to be Bangladesh's biggest of the match, and batsmen continued to fall to Herath before they could launch any sustained resistance. At times, Mathews's use of his bowlers was perplexing but, even in strangely short spells, Herath was effective, and he received keen support from Eranga. Herath reeled in a career-best seven, culminating in
his 200th Test wicket, and Sri Lanka's target was just 160. Opener Karunaratne capped another unconvincing Test by departing for 16, but Dilshan progressed to a brisk 57, while Sangakkara's dismissal for 55 reduced his series average to 110.
Man of the Match: H. M. R. K. B. Herath. Man of the Series: K. C. Sangakkara.