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No secret weapons vs India this time, says Sri Lanka skipper Rangana Herath

Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team starts as favourite, but Sri Lanka national cricket team’s stand-in skipper Rangana Herath is the one who will keep the visiting batsmen on their toes with his tricky left-arm spin bowling

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Jul 25, 2017 20:45 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Galle
India vs Sri Lanka,Sri Lanka vs India,SL vs IND
Sri Lanka cricket captain Rangana Herath (L) and Suranga Lakmal play football during a training session at Galle International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. The first Test between SL and Indian cricket team will begin on Wednesday.(AFP)

Over the years, one feature of Sri Lankan cricket has been the ability to unearth mystery spinners on a regular basis, using them as surprise weapons against the visiting teams.

The opponents are always wary of what the hosts could have up their sleeves. After the unorthodox Muttiah Muralitharan dominated for years, the Indian team in 2008 was ambushed by carrom-ball artist, Ajantha Mendis.

However, Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain Rangana Herath declared there was no surprise weapon in his armoury this time as India start a three-Test series.

“There are no secret spinners. If you see the squad, you can see the spinners,” said Herath on the eve of the opening Test at Galle.

The world’s leading left-arm spinner admitted that compared to the last time they played in Galle and won, in 2015, it will be a challenge for his bowling attack against the Indian batsmen.

“Last time, (Dinesh) Chandimal scored 160 odd (162*) and then I took some wickets (seven in the second innings). But this time, India’s batting is very strong.

“Whatever happened in the recent past doesn’t count. We’re starting another new series and need to start well. Even we have a game plan for each and every single player… but we’re starting a new game,” said Herath, who felt there won’t be much for the spinners in the wicket it and will only offer assistance to them on the final two days.

India start favourites, but Sri Lanka’s stand-in skipper is the one who will keep the visiting batsmen on their toes.

Herath is 39, an age when cricketers are long retired. But such has been his form and impact that Virat Kohli and Co can take him lightly at their peril. The India skipper admitted his team will be wary of Herath, especially after how he rallied Sri Lanka in Galle in 2015.

“He’s a quality bowler. Last time, he really dented us in that small chase. It was a great eye-opener. We worked on those things in the next two games and we were able to win the series. He played both the games and the ball was still doing a bit. I think our batsmen came up with the goods and they had counter plans in place. So, we understand what he brings to the table and what needs to be done.”

Yet, at Galle, Herath can be a different proposition. In 81 Tests, he has 384 wickets, the most by a left-arm spinner ever. He has claimed 93 wickets in 16 Tests at Galle.

In India’s last Test here, he took 7/48 in the fourth innings to script a 63-run win, after conceding a 192-run lead.

But Virat said: “We’ve come a long way from that tour, and we believe in our batsmen to deliver the goods when required the most.”

First Published: Jul 25, 2017 20:40 IST