Chittagong: Rangana Herath's extraordinary spin bowling was termed as unbelievable and outstanding by the captains of Sri Lanka and New Zealand as the left-arm spinner took five wickets at the expense of only three runs to script his team's stunning win in the ICC World Twenty20 game, here on Monday. Herath bowled 21 balls and among them 18 were dot as he went on to record one of the most stunning figures in the history of Twenty20 cricket.
It was the third best bowling performance in T20 cricket. Herath's compatriot Ajantha Mendis twice took six wickets. Mendis, whom Herath replaced in the side, had taken six for eight against Zimbabwe in 2012 and six for 16 against Australia in 2011. (Scorecard | Highlights | Points Table)
"This pitch has been slow consistently. I trusted my spinners. Herath was unbelievable. We were waiting for an occasion like this and we pulled through," Sri Lanka's stand-in skipper Lasith Malinga said. (Match report)
"Rangana was waiting for his chance and he proved himself really well. We have some other good spinners in Ajantha and Seekuge. We have a good opportunity with the turning wickets in Dhaka," Malinga added.
Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum was equally impressed with Sri Lankan spinners. "We knew there was a lot of hard work to do. Knew we needed to be positive in the first six. It was a bit dry than we expected and Herath and Sachi (Sachitra Senanayake) were outstanding with the way they bowled," McCullum said. (Herath's magical fifer in pictures)
"They blew us away with about eight wickets for some 10 runs. Wouldn't say there was extra pressure, it was a quarter-final anyway. We just didn't adapt ourselves and played some mindless cricket. We took some poor options and as a result of that we're on the plane home," he added.
Man-of-the-match Herath said, "What I realised was we needed wickets and I put the ball in the right place. Luckily the dew wasn't there. We had a bad game against England but nothing was wrong today, no dew. Malinga was asking to what we can do, nothing more."
Malinga said having three former captains helped him in planning the game. "Really lucky to have Angelo (Mathews), Mahela (Jayawardene) and (Tillakaratne) Dilshan to help me. they have good experience," he said.