COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka swept a test series against Australia for the first time Wednesday, handing the tourists a 163-run defeat in the third test with spinner Rangana Herath bagging seven wickets in another 10-wicket match haul.
As well as losing the series 3-0, Australia also relinquished its status as the top-ranked test side, slipping to third, as its poor run in Asia continued.
“The boys worked extremely hard, harder than the first two games, we really wanted the 3-0,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.
Sri Lanka had beaten Australia in a test series only once before, in 1999 under Sanath Jayasuriya’s captaincy.
Set 324 to win with almost a full day’s play, Australia reached 77 without loss in its second innings but the dismissal of opener Shaun Marsh at the stroke of lunch triggered a batting collapse to 160 all out in the middle session.
For Australia this is the third straight whitewash defeat in Asia, after being beaten 2-0 by Pakistan and 4-0 by India. Australia won its last test series in Asia in 2011 against Sri Lanka.
“It’s a hard one to grasp really, it’s been a very tough series again, that is our third straight whitewash loss in the subcontinent,” said Australia captain Steve Smith.
“What we are doing isn’t working, batters aren’t adapting to the conditions, spin bowlers aren’t adapting to the conditions. I can’t fault our quicks, I thought they did a great job, particularly Mitchell Starc, but our batters and spinners are the ones who have to step up and we haven’t been able to do that.”
Herath accounted for Smith (8), Adam Voges (1), Mitchell Marsh (9), Peter Nevill (2), Starc (23), Josh Hazlewood (0) and Nathan Lyon (12) to finish with 7-64.
After 6-81 in the first innings, it was Herath’s seventh 10-wicket haul in a test with 13-145 overall.
The 38-year-old Herath was named man of the match — and man of the series — for his tally of 28 wickets
David Warner shrugged off a poor series to score 68 but that wasn’t nearly enough to save Australia.
Earlier Wednesday, Sri Lanka resumed its second innings on 312-8 and declared less than five overs later at 347-8, setting Australia a daunting target on a final-day pitch.
Dhananjaya de Silva followed up his first innings maiden century with an unbeaten 65. He faced 74 balls and hit 10 boundaries to increase the scoring rate.
Kaushal Silva had anchored the innings with 115 after just 18 runs in his previous five test innings. Dinesh Chandimal supported the innings with 43.
Australian off spinner Nathan Lyon took 4-123 in 37 overs.
Sri Lanka scored 355 in its first innings and Australia made 379.
India is now the top-ranked test team but second-ranked Pakistan will go top if India fails to win the fourth test match against West Indies, starting Thursday in Trinidad.
Sri Lanka goes up one spot to No. 6.