Galle: Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews called his side's 63-run win in the first Test against India a "great turnaround", saying that a "brilliant team effort" saved the day for the hosts after they were in the dumps for the major part of the match.
In an extraordinary twist to the game, India were bowled out for just 112 in their second innings while chasing 176, as Sri Lanka scripted one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent Test history.
"It was a great turnaround. We were down and out for the first three and a half days. Dinesh Chandimal's innings gave us some sort of life to come back into the game," said Mathews at the post match press conference.
"We batted really poorly in the first innings and really didn't give ourselves or our bowlers a chance to bowl well. In the first innings, Tharindu Kaushal was brilliant. All the bowlers bowled their hearts out. The second innings was amazing. Even Nuwan Pradeep's spell in the morning created a lot of pressure.
"It was easy for Rangana Herath and Kaushal to come and bowl. I thought it was a great team effort. No one really would have given us a chance to win this game and I thought it was a brilliant team effort," he added.
After being bowled out for just 183 in their first innings, Sri Lanka conceded a healthy 192-run lead to India.
But it was Chandimal's counter-attacking best-Test effort of 162 not out in Lanka's second innings that turned the match on its head on day three. And then Rangana Herath (7/48) wreaked havoc on a day four Galle pitch, where no team has ever chased a 100-plus fourth innings' total.
"To be honest it was not an easy wicket to bat on. In the first innings, we played poorly. We were not positive enough.
We kept losing wickets and didn't use our feet. Their bowlers also bowled really well on this track. The spinners got a lot of help. They opened with the spinners as well," he said.
"When it came to the second innings we had nothing to lose. They had a 192-run lead and we had to surpass it and get a good sort of lead. We had to take our chances. We had no other choice than being positive. We had to use our sweeps, reverse sweeps and be positive. That's the approach we wanted to carry because there was no point just trying to hang in their way. And Chandimal was outstanding.
"It was amazing the way he batted. He took his chances and kept sweeping and reverse-sweeping. He got us into a position single-handedly where he gave us a chance," Mathews pointed out.