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Andrew Fidel Fernando
August 15, 2014
Rangana Herath marked out Kaushal Silva's sharp work to dismiss Younis Khan as a key moment on Friday, after Pakistan finished the day 76 runs adrift, with four first-innings wickets remaining.
Younis was batting on 13 when he defended a ball from Herath, but though he controlled the shot well, the ball struck his toe and shot up towards Silva at silly point, without hitting the ground. The fielder made a quick grab, then flicked the ball to the wicketkeeper before his elbows hit the ground, ensuring the chance would not be spilled.
"Younis Khan's wicket was the turning point," Herath said. "If you take the Galle Test, he went onto score 170. That's why Pakistan managed to score over 400. The main run-getters are Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis. Getting their wickets gives us a big advantage in this Test."
The wicket of Misbah also gave Herath his 250th Test scalp, in his 80th innings with the ball. The milestone is particularly impressive because Herath had been only an occasional member of the Sri Lanka squad from his debut in 1999 till 2009.
"It is a big achievement as a spinner," he said. "If you see the last five to six years, that's when I've taken over 200 wickets. At the start of my career I couldn't play for Sri Lanka, but I don't regret that.
"I am extremely happy to achieve this milestone at least late in my career. From the age of 30 until now, I have been able to take wickets. I'm always just thinking of how I can be of assistance to the team with my style of bowling."
Herath now also has more five-wicket hauls against Pakistan than any other opposition, but that may largely be because he has delivered more than twice as many Test-match overs against them, than any other opposition. He now has 79 Pakistan wickets at 30.31, and suggested that Pakistan batsmen may have a weakness against left-arm spin.
"I don't see any special reason for doing well against them. I stick to my basics, and against other countries also I do the same thing. But I realise that the Pakistanis are not playing very well against me. If you take the records it looks like they are weak against left-arm spinners."
Herath had been effective with the bat, before he claimed his 5 for 98 on day two, playing a role in the ninth and tenth-wicket stands that added 59 runs to the overnight total. Those runs may prove crucial, with the match evenly poised.
"Coach Marvan Atapattu told us to somehow get to the 300 run mark, when we were on 261 overnight. There wasn't any batsmen left, so we planned to do it ourselves.
"Because of what we achieved in the morning, we are now in a good position at the end of the day having taken six Pakistan, wickets and still with good lead."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernandoFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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