Birthday special: Rangana Herath – Five best spells by legendary Sri Lankan spinner

Rangana Herath

Former Sri Lanka cricketer Rangana Herath is celebrating his 45th birthday. Herath finished his illustrious Test career in 2018 with a record 433 Test wickets, the most by a left-arm spinner. To date, no other left-arm spinner has managed to pick up 400 Test wickets. He also played 71 ODIs and 17 T20Is and picked up 74 and 18 wickets respectively.

So as Herath celebrates his special day today, we are taking a look at five of his best bowling performances in international cricket.

5. 6/98 v South Africa, Colombo (SSC), 2nd Test, 2018

This spell against South Africa came when Herath was 40 years old and in the 20th year of his international career. The old warhorse bowled a total of 32.5 overs in the second innings of the game and took 6 for 98 to power Sri Lanka to a thumping win of 199 runs over the Proteas. Chasing an improbable total of 490, South Africa were all out for just 290.

4. 6/43 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 1st Test, 2017:

This was the very Test where Herath entered the 400-wicket club in Tests. To date, he is the only left-arm spinner to have breached the 400-wicket mark in the longest format of the game. Coming to the game, the Abu Dhabi pitch did not assist the bowlers much on the first three days before it started taking turn all of a sudden on day four. Pakistan bowled Sri Lanka out for 138 in their second innings thanks to Yasir Shah’s five-for and got a mere target of 136 runs to chase. Herath gave Sri Lanka a good start by dismissing Sami Aslam for two before Haris Sohail and Sarfaraz Ahmed steadied the ship with a 42-run stand. But before Pakistan could further bolster their chances of winning the game, Herath destroyed their lineup by taking 6 wickets for 43 balls. Sri Lanka won the match by 21 runs.

3. 9/127 v Pakistan, Colombo (SSC), 2nd Test, 2014:

Rangana Herath’s best spell in Tests came during the Colombo Test against Pakistan in 2014.  On a pitch that was still ideal for batting, Herath relied on his immaculate line and length and was duly rewarded. He was not afraid to toss it up against batsmen who were proficient against spin bowling, including Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq and finished the innings with a stunning spell of 9 for 127 as Pakistan were all out for 332 in their first innings. Herath went on to take five more wickets in the second innings to help his team win the game by 105 runs.

2. 5/3 v New Zealand, Chattogram, T20 World Cup, 2014:

While Rangana Herath enjoyed most of his success in Tests, he was more than a handy bowler in limited-overs format too. One of his finest performances in white-ball cricket came against New Zealand in Sri Lanka’s final Super 10 game. It was a virtual quarter-final for Sri Lanka and they were all out for just 119. New Zealand were looking favourites to win the contest before Herath turned on the heat. New Zealand made a steady start and were on 18 for 0 after three overs before Herath came on to bowl in the fourth over and turned the match upside down. Herath took 5 wickets while giving away just 3 runs off his 3.3 overs as New Zealand were all out for just 60.

1. 7/48 v India, Galle, 1st Test, 2015:

Sri Lanka were firmly on the backfoot when both teams ended their first innings in the game. The hosts had managed just 183 runs in their first innings before India piled up 375 to take a healthy lead of 192 runs. In the second innings, Sri Lanka did well with the bat to score 367 and gave India a target of 176. With the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan in the Indian team, the visitors were the favourites. But before India could even get close to the target, Herath blew them away by taking 7 wickets for just 48 runs as the visitors were all out for just 112.