Sri Lanka will be praying for Rangana Herath's return to form © AFP
Sri Lanka will be praying for Rangana Herath’s return to form © Getty Images

Rangana Herath had a horrendous series against Pakistan, picking up just two wickets in four innings. Sri Lanka lost the series 1-2, with Herath being dropped in the third Test. With India visiting Sri Lanka in a couple of days, Herath will be earmarked by the home side as one of the key bowlers. Herath has a decent record against India and will be raring to go once the series starts. Pramod Ananth believes Herath can redeem himself against India.

Every cricketer has a phase where they go through a lean patch. That however does not mean that they are not as good as they were, but just need to find their rhythm once again. Herath is a technically sound bowler, with a simple action and gives the ball a good tweak. His line and lengths are more or less immaculate and his arm balls too have often foxed many batsmen.  Herath peaked very late in his career as bowlers like Muttiah Muralitharan often kept him out, but formed a good partnership with him along the way. But when Sri Lanka went into matches where they did not need two spinners, Herath would be the one to get the axe. ALSO READ: A ‘low’ for Rangana Herath

Coming back to recent events, Sri Lanka would have had high expectations from Herath in the series against Pakistan, but he failed miserably. The Pakistan batsmen were playing him with ease and he did not manage to get any sort of purchase off the wickets. It seemed like the Pakistan players used the conditions to good effect as their leg spinner Yasir Shah picked up 20-plus wickets in the series, with many experts terming him at par with the likes of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble. But Herath, who finished with 14 wickets in the Colombo Test when Pakistan toured Sri Lanka in August 2014, was considered as the best spinner at that time. He picked up 23 wickets in the two Tests, but this time around in 2015, Pakistan seemed to have found their way past Herath. ALSO READ: Rangana Herath: Spectacular yet remains underrated

India last played against Sri Lanka in 2010, which gives him the edge as none of the players barring Harbhajan Singh would have had the opportunity to face him. In a way, Herath has a slight advantage over the Indians. This, keeping in mind that India have many players, who are excellent against spin, but for most, it will be the first time they will be facing Herath. And among those, only a few of them have toured Sri Lanka. It might be in the subcontinent, but the pitches in Sri Lanka are very different from that of India or even Pakistan, and the Indian batsmen cannot take it for granted. Herath definitely does not have age on his side and one gets the feeling that the series against India might be last chance to prove his worth. Given his experience, skill and temperament, Herath is surely capable of bouncing back with authority. ALSO READ: The Rise of Rangana Herath

Rangana Herath’s performances against India

M I W BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5w
4 6 12 5/121 5/121 54.91 3.4 96.7 1

Skipper Angelo Mathews has many good fast bowlers at his disposal, but the experience of Herath in the latter stages of the innings will be crucial. If India can find a way to get past Herath, they will surely back themselves to do well.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)