Prabath Jayasuriya’s debut takes on dreamier dimensions. The slow left-arm tweaker has spun Sri Lanka to victory in the second Test against Australia in Galle. Amidst a deepening political crisis and after suffering embarrassment in the series opener, their cricketers have responded to raise some cheer amongst the Lankan masses. After snaring six wickets in his debut innings, halting the Australian charge to 364, Jayasuriya would watch on from the Galle stadium’s pavilion as Dinesh Chandimal stepped through the gears to script an unbeaten 206. With a healthy lead of 190 to work with, the 30-year-old was devilish throughout, tying knots around the visiting batters.

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With scalps of Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc and fellow-offie Nathan Lyon in the first innings, the Matale-born player returned figures of 6-118 in his 36 overs. Just as the Australian openers began to settle into a rhythm in the second innings, Jayasuriya cracked his fingers to run through the spine of their batting order. Dismissing Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith in quick succession, he would continue spreading his charms by trapping Labuschagne plumb in front, leaving the Aussies reeling at 112/5, still 78 runs in arrears.

He completed a historic 10-wicket haul with Cameron Green’s wicket and would go on to register back-to-back five-wicket figures with Mitchell Starc’s departure. Castling Mitchell Swepson for his sixth of the innings, the offie ensured an innings defeat for Australia while posting 12 wickets on debut. Churning out an unplayable spell of 6/59 on the fourth day, Jayasuriya has been instrumental in this most momentous of Sri Lankan wins.

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An unlikely starter, Jayasuriya was a late addition to the first XI after a Covid outbreak ruled out medium-pacer Asitha Fernando, leg spinner Jeffrey Vandersay and reserve spinner Praveen Jayawickrama. With returns of 12/177 across two innings, his figures rank as the fourth-best for a debutant.

Jayasuriya honed his craft on Matale’s Christ Church College grounds before switching to Colombo’s Lumbini College. The bearded spinner has played first-class cricket for Colts Cricket Club while enjoying stints with Jaffna Stallions in the Lanka Premier League and Singhalese Sports Club in the SLC Twenty20 tournament. He made his ODI debut against South Africa in 2018 at Dambulla’s International Stadium. Throwing down ten overs for 53 runs, he would watch as Quinton de Kock made mincemeat of the Sri Lankan attack.