GALLE, Sri Lanka — Rangana Herath returned a match haul of 11 wickets to lead Sri Lanka to a crushing 10-wicket win Monday against New Zealand inside three days of the first test and take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Set 93 to win, the hosts reached the target in one session with debutant Dimuth Karunaratne scoring a run-a-ball 60 not out.
After being dismissed for a duck in the first innings Karunaratne hit nine boundaries to see his team home. Tharanga Paranavitana was not out on 31. Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene praised player of the match Herath, calling him the second best spinner he's played with after retired world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan.
"After Murali we would have struggled for the next 2-3 years without him," he said. "I am quite happy with the way we fought in this test to finish the game in three days."
Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 50 in its first innings and it took a gritty 156-run partnership between Jayawardene (91) and his deputy Angelo Mathews (79) to salvage the innings.
Despite the batting failure New Zealand skipper refused to blame his batsmen. "I can't fault them, they gave their best (but) Herath bowled very well," he said. "We have to pick ourselves up and give ourselves the best chance," he said of the second and final test match starting in Colombo on Sunday.
Resuming its second innings at a comfortable 35-1, New Zealand lost nine wickets for 83 runs in just 39 overs to be dismissed for 118. Herath stuck with successive deliveries in New Zealand's 34th over when he bowled Daniel Flynn for 20 and trapped Doug Bracewell lbw for a duck. He earlier dismissed captain Ross Taylor lbw (18), James Franklin (2) stumped by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and after lunch had tailender Jeetan Patel caught by Karunaratne without scoring.
Herath finished with 6-43 and with his 5-65 in New Zealand's first innings collected a haul of 11-108. Herath's previous 10-wicket test haul came earlier this year against England, also at Galle.
Seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara gave the hosts a dominant start to the day by dismissing both overnight batsmen for just 11 runs. Kulasekara (2-28) bowled Martin Guptill (13) with a delivery that drifted away from the right-hander and Jayawardene took a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Kane Williamson for 10.
New Zealand scored 221 in its first innings and Sri Lanka was dismissed for 247 with a slim 26-run first innings lead.