Sri Lanka was facing an uphill task in the Pink Ball Test against Australia in Brisbane. Having lost Nuwan Pradeep before the tour, Dinesh Chandimal’s side suffered another blow with Lahiru Kumara suffering a hamstring injury which could curtail his participation in the tour. Lakmal had to carry the burden of the bowling on his own but put in an admirable show. After getting Joe Burns (15) and Nathan Lyon (1), Lakmal came back in sensational style to run through the Australian lower order. He trapped Travis Head LBW for 89 and was on a hat-trick when Tim Paine edged to Kusal Mendis for a duck. The right-armer rounded off the innings in style as he trapped debutant Kurtis Patterson LBW for 30 to finish with 5/75. In the previous Test against New Zealand in Christchurch, Lakmal had figures of 5/54 which was his career-best.
Lakmal’s haul put him in a special club of Sri Lanka bowlers as he became the sixth bowler to achieve this feat in a Test in Australia. Before Lakmal, Rumesh Ratnayake, Chaminda Vaas, Upul Chandana, Rangana Herath and Graeme Labrooy were the other bowlers to have taken five-wickets in a Test Down Under. Labrooy was the first Sri Lankan to achieve this feat when he picked up 5/133 in the Brisbane Test in 1989 and it was immediately followed by Ratnayake, who took 6/66 in Hobart in the same year. Ratnayake’s haul remains the best by a Sri Lankan bowler in Tests in Australia.
Vaas picked up 5/31 in the Darwin Test in 2004 while Herath snapped 5/95 in the Hobart Test in 2012. Chandana, the legspinner, is the only Sri Lankan bowler to have ever-taken a 10-wicket haul in a Test in Australia. He took 5/109 and 5/101 to finish with 10/210 in the Cairns Test of 2004. Sri Lanka has never won a Test in Australia and their wait could be prolonged as Australia dominated proceedings in Brisbane.
Speaking in the press conference at the end of day, Lakmal rated this effort as his best. “I treasure the Australian five-wicket haul much more than anything else. I always wanted to take a five-wicket haul in Australia and it's a dream come true. On wickets that help, I try to do my best and I am pretty pleased with my effort,” Lakmal said.