A lot of eyebrows were raised when the Sri Lankan selectors picked Rangana Herath ahead of off-spinner Suraj Randiv in the World Cup squad last month.
The doubts over preferring the senior left-arm spinner ahead of the in-form rookie were justified to a certain extent. Considering that Herath, despite making his Test debut way back in 1999, had just 11 ODI caps to his name, his selection for the Cup was nothing but a shock.
But all the doubts over his selection were put to rest on Saturday when the 32-year-old returned with figures of two for 46 off his 10 overs against Pakistan. Though Muttiah Muralitharan was the pick of the bowlers, Herath did a commendable job in not only putting the brakes on Pakistan's scoring rate but also when it came to breaking partnerships.
In his second over, just as Kamran Akmal was looking dangerous, Herath fooled him with one that dipped and turned sharply for Kumar Sangakkara to do the rest. And then, when Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq were about to start using the big handle, Herath was rewarded when Younis top-edged him to short fine leg in his last over.
The spinner thus not only justified his call-up but also made his maiden World Cup outing memorable.
With Murali set to quit international cricket, Herath is expected to lead the spin attack.