Sri Lanka clinched their first series whitewash over a major cricketing nation on Wednesday (August 17) as they won the third and final Test against Australia by 163 runs, with Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner, taking 7 for 64.
Set a formidable target of 324 in their second innings at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), the No. 1 Test side collapsed in the afternoon session on the fifth day and were all out for 160.
It was the third time in a row that the Australians had lost all of their Tests in away series against teams from the subcontinent.
David Warner and Shaun Marsh, the openers, gave Australia some hope of a consolation win with a brisk start in the morning session but once their partnership was broken, the visitors suffered a rapid collapse.
Dilruwan Perera, the offspinner, struck just before lunch to send Marsh, who scored a century in the century in the first innings, back to the pavilion for 23.
Herath soon took over from his fellow spinner to dismiss Steven Smith, the Australian skipper, and Adam Vogues, the senior batsman, in the same over.
Warner, who had batted well for his 68 with six fours and a six, was Dilruwan’s second big strike.
Herath, who had claimed six wickets in the first innings, then ran through the Australian middle and lower order as the visitors’ batsmen had no answer to his left-arm spin. Herath, 38, took the final wicket of Nathan Lyon to trigger wild celebrations in the Sri Lankan camp.
Earlier Sri Lanka, who resumed on 312 for 8, declared their second innings on 347 for 8 with overnight batsman Dhananjaya de Silva unbeaten on 65.
Playing in just his third Test, de Silva smashed 10 boundaries during his 74-ball knock, after scoring a century in the first innings.
Kaushal Silva’s gritty 115 played a big part in Sri Lanka registering their first series sweep against a major side since gaining Test status in 1981.
Defiant centuries from Dinesh Chandimal and de Silva ensured that the hosts got a decent first-innings score of 355 after being 26 for 5 on the first morning.
Mitchell Starc, the pace spearhead, remained the standout performer for the visitors with his 24 wickets in the series including three five-wicket hauls.
Sri Lanka had only ever beaten Australia once before in a Test match but they won the first two contests of the series comfortably in Galle and Pallekele before wrapping up proceedings in the capital.
The teams now head into the limited-overs phase of the tour with the first of five One-Day Internationals scheduled for August 21.