In a 259-run win it was fittingly a captains serenading as the wily veteran spinner Rangana Herath hogged the limelight in that euphoria with a record breaking personal milestone. His world record of 363 Test wickets by a left arm spinner at that level eclipsing New Zealander Daniel Vettori’s 362 was the high point as far as personal milestones go that he extended to winning fusion to put Sri Lanka 1-up in the 2-match Test series.
Indeed, in an age defined by cricket mathematics as the fading years of a player’s career, Herath mounting an odyssey of getting better and better as he once again demonstrated by his 6 for 59 to destroy Bangladesh was great stuff.
As Bangladesh crumbled on the fifth and final day that customarily becomes spin friendly on the Galle, the stocky Herath grew in stature as the spin wizard took the ball to rein in the captaincy clout the selectors had laid faith in him when quick wickets mattered on an unpredictable rain plagued Galle track. Herath took over from where spin twin Dilruwan Perera finished with the wicket of the dangerous Tamim Iqbal. Herath followed up on the heels of the Perera success with a double-strike to draw level with Daniel Vettori’s record of 362. He had the dour Shakib Al Hasan caught at leg slip off a turning delivery, and two balls later trapped Mahmudullah lbw to a spinning delivery that beat his defence.
The cream of Bangladesh’s batting was back in the pavilion in only 12.4 overs. Herath’s record 363rd wicket came when he lured Liton for a leading edge to be snapped at cover. Lakshan Sandakan too lent to the n3-0man spin burst as Bangladesh folded for 197 in 45.2 of the 98 overs. Herath had accounted for Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman. Of course, the ‘Man of the Match award was all for the big centurion Kusal Mendis for his mammoth knock that set up the win.
Herath remains the second highest wicket taker for his country next to Muttiah Muralitharan’s world record of 795 wickets, having gone past fast bowler Chaminda Vaas’ 355 from 111 matches and 194 innings. His averages have contrastingly been flattering his 3603 scalps taking the spin wizard just 79 matches and 143 innings.
By Srian Obeyesekere