Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2014 August 19, 2014

Perfect Herath leads SL dominance

Sri Lanka's marks out of 10 following their 2-0 series win against Pakistan

Rangana Herath's 23 scalps were the most taken by a bowler in a two-Test series © AFP


Rangana Herath (23 wickets at 15.13)
Emphatically reclaimed his status as Sri Lanka's chief match-winner after a quieter six months than he is used to. Herath had not lost his guile or accuracy in the series against England and South Africa, but against Pakistan, he rediscovered the rip that transforms him from a wily squeezer to an unchecked menace. His spell on the fifth day at Galle was the turning point of the series. Herath beat both edges of the bat regularly, and even Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan were out twice cheaply to him in the second Test. On a tour in which three frontline quicks were injured, Herath stepped up and took more wickets than anyone ever has in a two-Test series. He has now outperformed Ajmal in each of the last three series between these teams.


Kumar Sangakkara (323 runs at 80.75)
After missing out against his favourite opponent in the UAE series early this year, Sangakkara made up for it with a double ton in the first innings in Galle, helping Sri Lanka take a lead that would later prove invaluable. Rock solid against Ajmal and comfortable against Pakistan's pace, Sangakkara also made an important fifty in the second innings at the SSC, to help set up a daunting fourth-innings target.

Angelo Mathews (198 runs at 99)
The crazy thing about Angelo Mathews' average as captain is that just when you think he is due a failure, it improves with every series. He now averages 86.62 after 13 Tests at the helm. In Galle, his 91 in the first innings and his 13-ball 25 in the second dig where he hit the winning runs seconds before the rain came down, showcased his increasing range as a Test batsman. As a captain, Mathews seems to understand the limitations of attack, but is moving gradually towards embracing aggression. He still leant on Mahela Jayawardene's tactical acumen in the field, so greater challenges for his leadership lie ahead.


Dilruwan Perera (9 wickets at 34.88)
Expensive in Galle, but managed to pick up a five-wicket haul in the first innings, bowling a little more aggressively than he did against South Africa. He threatened the batsmen less on a turning track at the SSC, which left Herath with all the work. No big turner of the ball, but an accurate operator, Perera has done enough to prove he deserves to be in the national mix, particularly as he seems the kind of bowler who will pick up new tricks through experience. Sri Lanka might hope for a little more from him with the bat than the five runs he delivered in this series, though.

Upul Tharanga (168 runs at 42)
Sublime one moment, shaky the next. Sri Lanka would love for Tharanga to firm up his place, but he still seems unsure of himself. He scores his runs quickly, to offset Kaushal Silva's steady grind, and he has done well enough in this series to be in consideration for the ODI outfit. Tharanga seems to have been around forever, but at 29, he is still capable of carving out a long, successful career, as long as he omits the recurrent technical issues that have frustrated him in the past. There may also be a case for moving him to the middle order, where his issues against the new, swinging ball will be less apparent, and his considerable skill against spin can be better exploited.

Dhammika Prasad (5 wickets at 34.60)
More in-your-face than the other seamers in Sri Lanka's pace battery, Prasad got a little bit more out of the pitch than the other Sri Lanka quicks managed in the series. He would almost certainly not have played if Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal had been fit, but his ability to make important contributions is a promising sign Sri Lanka's fast bowling is developing under Chaminda Vaas. Deserves a trip to New Zealand at the end of the year, as long as he stays fit.

Niroshan Dickwella (50 runs at 16.66, 12 catches 1 stumping)
Gets this mark almost solely for his keeping, which was terrific, given the number of chances that came his way. He was tidy keeping to seam bowlers, who at times got inconsistent bounce, but adept to spinners, particularly at SSC, where the ball was turning considerably on day four, and leaping up off a length. Batted positively, but did not last long in his three innings in the series.


Mahela Jayawardene (143 runs at 35.75)
Few players have meant more to a team beyond the numbers they have piled up, and the admiration team-mates and opponents had for Jayawardene was obvious as he bid adieu to Tests at the SSC. He was not at his fluent best this series, but did produce two fifties, both brimming with that characteristic Jayawardene grace. Made five good grabs at slip as well, to finish on 205 Test catches - another hole, apart from the batting and the strategy, that Sri Lanka now have to fill in this format.

Kaushal Silva (122 runs at 40.66)
Steady contributions in both Tests, without a truly standout innings. Fourteen Tests in, Silva does not seem to have any gaping technical flaws, which is not a common trait for Sri Lanka openers. Now reasonably settled in the side, he will hope to take his batting to the next level by producing big scores in his next series. Did some good work as a close-in fielder as well.

Only one Test


Chanaka Welegedara (1 wicket at 87)
Once Sri Lanka's premier seamer, Welegedara has had a long, tough road back from multiple injuries. Though he produced a few good balls, he was not at his best rhythm at the SSC. Still, he claimed the wicket of Sarfraz Ahmed to effectively seal the win, and also gains a point for his 27 not out off 30 balls in the first innings, which elevated Sri Lanka's score from mediocre to competitive.


Lahiru Thirimanne (30 runs at 15)
He was dropped, perhaps prematurely, after a woeful England tour and a modest showing against South Africa, but he did not shake himself into form on his return either. Maybe a little A-team cricket during the break will help him get back to near his best.


Shaminda Eranga (1 wicket at 122)
Eranga was probably rushed back before he had recovered well enough from his hand injury. He was lower on pace than usual, and did not generate the swing he normally gets. He received treatment for his wound after almost every over, and now has a few months to rest and recover from a hip flexor injury, ahead of the New Zealand tour.

Kithuruwan Vithanage (16 runs at 16)
Did not make a convincing play for a long-term spot Sri Lanka's middle order based on his two Tests in the side, but he did bat aggressively alongside Mathews in the Galle chase, to help get Sri Lanka across the line. He was left out of the second Test, officially because of a finger injury.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nasser on August 21, 2014, 16:03 GMT

    Please, please, please; never give a perfect score. No one is perfect; it is a mathematical non-sense to give 100% marks on ANY performance for ANYBODY.

  • Nick on August 21, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    @Chandima Devasinghe. Upul Tharanga is every bit a Test opener as he showed at the SSC with two splendid innings of 92 and 45 against a formidable Pakistan attack. He is an attacking quick-scoring player with excellent technique and a fine record. His two centuries for SL A against England Lions at Dambulla and Premadasa in February were beautifully compiled. While his bold, sweetly-timed shots in front of the wicket at the start of the innings, wrest the initiative from the opposition, and are a delight to watch. Now for the ODIs, where Tharanga excels. The World Cup beckons.

  • Kepili on August 21, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    @ Chandima Devasinghe: I think you r missing the point here. Andrew-Silva's posting with some interesting stats were clearly intended to prove a different point (Nicking frequency) your posting doesn't answer the questions that he had asked, based on those career stats.

    Needles to say, Batsmen's approach in Test scenario is entirely different from ODIs. But, remember OPENER's situation is much more closer to Tests than rest of the batters who appear later-on, in an ODI. In a Test match, an Opener has to face the same attacking field (with intact slip cordon) at-least for the first few overs! Bowler's strategy entirely depends on the batsmen's approach. Dealing with Juiciness of the pitch is a common factor for an Opener in ODI or Test.! Restriction of overs for a bowler in ODIs is not a beneficial factor compared to Test for an Opener, at-least in the initial stage of a match (unlike rest of the batters, an Opener certainly has to deal with the best opponent pacemen's initial spell)

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    @Andrew-Silva on (August 19, 2014, 17:14 GMT) I too agree Tharanga is a good opening batsman in the ODI format. But a test opener, he is not: at least not until he considerably improves his game. The challenges faced by a test opener is vastly different to a ODI opener. In ODIs the attitude of the opening bowler is different. They would primarily bowl back of a good length with the main aim of damage control within the field restrictions. In tests, they will pitch it up and try to swing/seam, the slippers won't go away, the pitch too will have some juice first up and the bowlers don't have over restrictions. The swinging ball cause LBW and bowled outs as well. So just the caught behind stats don't mean much. Best is to compare batting averages as test openers, especially against strong oppositions.

  • Dummy4 on August 20, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    To Sri Lanka Cricket Board - Please arrange more Test matches to give our players to come up in the Test rankings. We have beaten No. 4 England 1-0 & No. 3 Pakistan 2-0 why can't we have a 5 match Test series with a top team. Until then at least try to arrange a 2 match Test series against Zimbabwe. Please stop having 2 match Test series with quality Test teams. We deserve 3 match Test series. Look at India. They get beaten but gets 5 match Test series.

  • Ted on August 20, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    @Andrew-Silva: Amazing piece of stats.! This definitely proves the constantly inconsistent double-standard views of OUR so called "Experts" in Commentary box! Except for honorable Ranjith Fernando, others seems to be selectively blind with reality, according to their personal preferences :)

    All of whom who are trying to find fault with Tharanga's occasional nicks at initial stages of a match should open their eyes & look at the nicking frequency of other opener's in that stage! A few occasional edges are very common in any Opener who is trying to move the scoreboard while dealing with new ball in the 1st session of an inning... this is nothing unusual to find fault with!

    But it is strange to find out, defensive "snail-pace" Opener like Kaushal Silva's mode of dismissals against pace bowlers accounts for 71% (almost 3 times in every 4 dismissals) due to EDGING TO THE KEEPER BEHIND...much more than anyone else in the business.!! Explain this before bloating-up to sling mud!

  • Ted on August 20, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs: Tharanga was the 2nd highest accumulator (from both sides) next to Sarfraz on that tricky deck! You cannot deny that fact or diminish due credit.! No other batsmen from both sides were able to play so many beautiful drives/cuts so frequently, to bring 17 Glorious Boundaries (the next best Sarfraz Ahmed managed just 9 Boundaries).

    There was ample pressure on Tharanga, apart from dealing with the new ball & spin on that two-paced, bounce varied wicket, where rest of the batters from both sides struggled to make runs! Remember, his 4 match window of limited opportunity given after 7 yr lay-off was further curtailed, before the match! Tharanga's innings are more valuable in that sense too.!

    Also, No matter how you look at it, you cannot deny the fact that Tharanga's effort was certainly a match-winning contribution.! In SL we definitely need a proper change in our VISION before MISSION... to give due credit where it belongs... irrespective of personal preferences..!!!

  • Dummy4 on August 20, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    I think Eranga should get more... at least 4 for his contributions.. Don't consider his service by numbers. And Mahela & Kaushal Silva 1 more point for their contributions as fielders...And for Mahela for his support to Mathews to lead the team..

  • Prashan on August 20, 2014, 0:25 GMT

    What if Sri Lanka referred the LBW appeal of Younis Khan in Galle along with Pakistan referring Sanga's LBW appeal in the same game? Both players' marks would have nose dived heavily and the Galle test might have been over by day 4 definitely.

    For Sri Lanka, no doubt Mathews is great along with good support from Tharanga and Kaushal Silva. Dickwella seems solid, but 3 more youngsters needed for the batting lineup in tests.

  • Ron on August 20, 2014, 0:06 GMT

    Anyone even considering promoting any SL-A cricketers to the national side (with the only exception of Chandimal) after they just got thrashed by ENG-A and NZ-A should have their heads examined.

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