Sri Lanka's old guard prove their worth again

The Sri Lankan captain was the only bowler from either side to get more than ten wickets in the two-Test series AFP


Rangana Herath (16 wickets at 18.00)

In a home series, who else but Herath to lead the wicket charts, wrapping his little tentacles around Bangladesh in Galle, then wangling out the tail at the P Sara? For the first time in a year, though, he failed to bowl his side to victory in the second Test - foiled on this occasion by a precise and inspired Tamim Iqbal. He says he has more cricket left to give, and Sri Lanka will probably need him decades into the future, even if he has to approach the crease in a mobility scooter. Herath also shares such a warm relationship with the opposition coach, that the series should unofficially be called the Herath-Hathurusingha BFF Cup.


Kusal Mendis (254 runs at 63.50)

Mendis was deemed "lucky" not to be out first ball at Galle, when he nicked behind only for a no-ball to eventually be called. But if he had simply played and missed at that delivery, we wouldn't remember it at all. There is a chance, however, that the reprieve tempered him. For the next 100 balls, Mendis was as disciplined as he had ever been at the top level, venturing big shots only against the really poor balls. That innings of 194 set the match up for Sri Lanka, but he couldn't cross fifty again in the three innings that followed. To scare him into staying on the straight-and-narrow, one of the coaching staff could show him a montage of horror dismissals from the careers of talented Sri Lankan batsmen who have lost their way. Here's one player Sri Lanka must turn into a run machine.


Dinesh Chandimal (198 runs at 66.00)

Arriving with a long string of failures behind him, a pulseless first innings at Galle suggested there would be more trouble. But then a mature 138 in Colombo, while his teammates faltered, marked a proper return to form. There was restraint in his shot selection during that knock, but he was also restrained in his celebrations and general demeanour. Could this be the onset of a more consistent and productive phase of his career? Is it a false dawn? It's only been a six-year career so far, but it feels like several lifetimes.

Dimuth Karunaratne (195 runs at 48.75)

Coaches often breed confidence in batsmen by sweetly whispering to them that their next big score is around the corner. Karunaratne, though, seems to largely make runs when his place is on the line. His excellent second-innings ton at the P Sara came in genuinely difficult circumstances, and was the only thing that gave Sri Lanka hope in that match. If he is better when he is insecure, would Karunaratne average 50 if the selectors were constantly yelling at him? Maybe 60 if he was forced to travel to the ground on the roof of the team bus? What's the harm in finding out?

Dilruwan Perera (eight wickets at 34.75, 143 runs at 35.75)

There were two excellent fifties with the bat, but also some long fruitless spells with the ball. Occasionally at the start of Sri Lanka's defence of 191 in Colombo, Perera proved expensive, which undermined Herath, who was attacking at the other end. His presence in the side does allow Sri Lanka to field five frontline bowlers, however, and one modest series after a few good home outings probably won't put his place under threat.


Upul Tharanga (156 at 39.00)

Tharanga had an encouraging return to the opening position, if, in a series in which openers had more success than they generally do on the island. Whatever is true about his batting overseas, he does look wonderful in full flow at home - especially adept against spin, but often imperious against the quicks as well. His Galle hundred was perhaps the most visually pleasing of the series' centuries. He got out to a challenging Mehedi Hasan delivery in the last innings of the series. Though, is it that Tharanga has the uncommon misfortune of getting good balls, or does he keep making decent deliveries look uncommonly good? It is honestly too hard to tell anymore.

Lakshan Sandakan (six wickets at 45.33)

Sandakan was better than these unflattering numbers suggest - his team-mates continued to drop catches off his bowling, and he made some vital breakthroughs. Bangladesh read his variations better than Australia had done, but that didn't mean he failed to be a threat. A long career beckons if he can keep working on his control.


Suranga Lakmal (three wickets at 50.33, 85 runs at 28.33)

After what would have seemed like a dream vacation on South Africa's lush pitches, Lakmal came back to his day job on the island's tiresome, tawny, dust-factories. His colleagues began disrespecting him almost immediately - dropping catches off his bowling, even though he had helped bail the team out with the bat at the P Sara. Lakmal has no choice but to swallow his sadness and keep plugging away on these pitches until Sri Lanka give him another holiday to England, or South Africa, or New Zealand. Two home series and an away tour to the UAE are up next. Pray for Lakmal.

Niroshan Dickwella (129 runs at 32.25, three catches, one stumping)

Dickwella made most of his runs in the easiest conditions encountered in this series, but did have a spark about his batting in Galle. He was out twice playing either the paddle sweep or the reverse paddle - the keeper anticipating and intercepting his shot both times. Perhaps this is part of Dickwella's Test education - you can't get away with it as much at this level. His keeping was mostly good, though far from flawless.


Asela Gunaratne (105 runs at 26.25, one wicket at 58.00)

If not quite a fall from the stratosphere, Gunaratne received at least a gentle return to Earth after his exploits in Australia and his success at the IPL auction. Sri Lanka needed runs from Gunaratne at the P Sara, but he was out lbw cheaply in both innings. Gunaratne's lbw decisions were about the only calls the P Sara umpires got right.


Lahiru Kumara (one Test, one wicket at 80.00)

A tough initiation to Test cricket at home after Kumara's heroics in South Africa. He played on a very flat Galle surface, and though a little expensive, Kumara did at least threaten on occasion.

Dhananjaya de Silva (one Test, 34 runs at 17.00)

Dhananjaya was on the receiving-end of a very good ball from Mustafizur Rahman in the second innings at P Sara, but should have made more of the start he had got in the first innings.