When Herath tormented Pakistan

Rangana Herath became the most successful left-arm spinner in Test cricket
Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi October 02, 2017

4 for 64, Faisalabad, 2004

The only one of these spells to be delivered by Rangana Herath 1.0 - before his 2009 renaissance - and the only one to have come in Pakistan, it was the carrom ball that was Herath's primary weapon as he bowled Sri Lanka to victory. Back then, the term carrom ball hadn't even been coined, of course, nor did anyone else seem to possess one. Unsurprisingly, it fooled no fewer than three Pakistan batsmen, Mohammad Yousuf among them. It is strange to think of Herath as a mystery bowler - in fact, he is closer now to mystery spin's complete antithesis. But that he once won a Test for Sri Lanka using a gimmick variation he had devised at school when playing indoors with a tennis ball, underscores how fascinating his career has been.

4 for 15, Galle, 2009

The spell that made modern-day Herath, and one with a terrific backstory. He had been playing league cricket in Stoke-on-Trent, when Muttiah Muralitharan injured his shoulder a few days out from the first Test against Pakistan. Kumar Sangakkara, then captain, asked Herath if he could make it in time. The day after he arrived in the island, he was playing a Test, and four days later, he was winning it. Pakistan needed 97 to win on the final day, with eight wickets still intact. Herath took four wickets and turned a tight game, setting down a blueprint for so many of his future successes.

5 for 99, P Sara Oval, 2009

Pakistan had collapsed for 90 in the first innings without Herath really having had to interfere, but after Younis Khan and Fawad Alam had put on 200 together in the second innings, they were fashioning themselves an escape. Not if Herath had anything to say about it. Once Younis had fallen, Herath seized his moment, with the second new ball. He first nailed Mohammad Yousuf with a slider, had Alam caught bat-pad, before another arm ball wangled its way between Shoaib Malik's bat and pad. What was impressive was the rate at which Herath's wickets came. Having been 285 for 1, Pakistan were soon 320 all out. Sri Lanka would proceed to win by seven wickets.

6 for 48, Galle, 2014

A match that for four days seemed destined to be a draw - which by stumps on the fourth day, had still only seen six overs of the second innings, and yet one which Herath managed to bring to a thrilling conclusion. He had removed Khurram Manzoor within those six overs at the end of day four, then, once other bowlers had made the first two breakthroughs on the final day, Herath imposed himself. His first day-five wicket was an in-form Younis Khan, between whose bat and pad Herath slipped an arm ball. A near-unplayable hard-spun delivery then took Azhar Ali's outside edge. Asad Shafiq and two tailenders would also fall to him, and while Herath was tearing Pakistan down, a huge crowd had built up, on the banks of the stadium as well as on Galle's Fort. They were treated to one of the most colourful Test finishes seen in Sri Lanka, as a gigantic dark cloud parked itself above the stadium as Sri Lanka attempted to run down the target of 99. Angelo Mathews began hooking like a man possessed, and completed the winning run just as the skies unleashed a downpour.

9 for 127, SSC, 2014

The only performance on this list to have come in the first innings, though his second-innings haul was not too shabby either, at 5 for 57. As no other bowlers seemed to be getting wickets, Herath took it upon himself to dismiss almost the entire batting order himself. It was the loop and dip Herath achieved on an as-yet unresponsive surface that was the main feature of this innings. The ball just held an extra second in the air, and batsmen's outside edges continued to be taken. Five catches went to either the keeper or slip. This spell would set up victory in Mahela Jayawardene's farewell Test.

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