Rangana Herath, who bagged a nine-wicket haul in the first innings and 14-wicket match haul in the second Test, was the unlikely hero in the series against Pakistan. © Getty Images

Rangana Herath, who bagged a nine-wicket haul in the first innings and 14-wicket match haul in the second Test, was the unlikely hero in the series against Pakistan. © Getty Images

The phrase “two sides of the same coin” was never more apt than on the Independence Day weekend for India. As the country celebrated its 68th year of independence over a long holiday weekend, cricket fans watched the team’s abysmal surrender at The Oval in horror. The Women’s team had earlier provided the cheer the men couldn’t, having delivered a historic Test win over England Women at Wormsley just 24 hours ago. The pundits rightly slammed the men’s team for their pathetic display with both bat and ball in the humiliating Test series defeat – their third series loss in a row against England after 2011 and 2012 (in India). Interestingly, England have won their last two series against India after being one Test down.

However, the series that set up several landmarks and milestones was the one just concluded in Sri Lanka, which the home side won 2-0 against Pakistan. Rangana Herath was the unlikely hero to emerge from this series. The left-arm spinner is the only survivor from the Test side of the 1990s in the present day, alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Herath’s nine-wicket haul in the first innings and 14-wicket match haul in the second Test ensured a fitting farewell from Tests for the retiring Mahela Jayawardene.

Herath’s 23 wickets set a new record for the most wickets in a two-match Test series. He bettered his former teammate Muttiah Muralitharan’s tally of 22 wickets against the South Africans eight years ago. Incidentally, Herath is now the only Test bowler to claim 20 or more wickets in a two-match Test series on two separate occasions.

The table below lists all bowlers with 20 or more wickets in a two-match Test series.

Most wickets by a bowler in a two-match Test series

Bowler For Mts Balls Runs Wkts Best Avg 5w 10m Season Series Series Result
Rangana Herath Sri Lanka 2 742 348 23 9/127 15.13 3 1 2014 vs Pak in SL W
Muttiah Muralitharan Sri Lanka 2 978 397 22 7/97 18.04 3 2 2006 vs SA in SL W
Johnny Briggs England 2 391 101 21 8/11 4.80 2 1 1888-89 in SA W
Anil Kumble India 2 587 312 21 10/74 14.85 2 1 1998-99 vs Pak in Ind D
Irfan Pathan India 2 391 237 21 7/59 11.28 3 1 2005 in Zim W
Saqlain Mushtaq Pakistan 2 899 403 20 5/93 20.15 4 2 1998-99 in Ind D
Daniel Vettori New Zealand 2 670 224 20 6/28 11.20 3 1 2004-05 in Ban W
Dale Steyn South Africa 2 336 184 20 6/49 9.20 3 2 2007-08 vs NZ in SA W
Rangana Herath Sri Lanka 2 708 278 20 6/43 13.90 3 1 2012-13 vs NZ in SL D

Herath also became the second oldest bowler in Test cricket history to claim nine or more wickets in an innings, and the fourth oldest to claim 14 or more wickets in a Test. The details are given below.

Oldest to claim nine or more wickets in a Test innings

Bowler Years Days Wkts Runs For Opp Inn Venue Date Result
Syd Barnes 40 254 9 103 Eng SA 2nd Johannesburg Old Dec 1913 W
Rangana Herath 36 150 9 127 SL Pak 1st Colombo SSC Aug 2014 W
Arthur Mailey 35 43 9 121 Aus Eng 2nd Melbourne Feb 1921 W
Jasu Patel 35 24 9 69 Ind Aus 1st Kanpur Dec 1959 W
Jack Noreiga 34 328 9 95 WI Ind 1st Port-of-Spain Mar 1971 L
Jim Laker 34 169 9 37 Eng Aus 1st Manchester Jul 1956 W
Jim Laker 34 169 10 53 Eng Aus 2nd Manchester Jul 1956 W
Richard Hadlee 34 129 9 52 NZ Aus 1st Brisbane Nov 1985 W

 

Oldest to claim 14 or more wickets in a Test match

Bowler Years Days Wkts Runs For Opp Venue Date Result
Syd Barnes 40 305 14 144 Eng SA Durban Feb 1914 D
Syd Barnes 40 255 17 159 Eng SA Johannesburg Old Dec 1913 W
Clarrie Grimmett 40 39 14 199 Aus SA Adelaide Feb 1932 W
Rangana Herath 36 152 14 184 SL Pak Colombo SSC Aug 2014 W
Jasu Patel 35 28 14 124 Ind Aus Kanpur Dec 1959 W

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Meanwhile, Herath became the first left-arm bowler in Test cricket history to claim a nine-wicket haul in an innings and his match figures of 14 for 184 are now the fifth best match performance by a left-arm bowler in Tests.

Most wickets in a Test innings by left-arm bowlers

Player Type For Ovs Mts Runs Wkts Inns Opposition Venue Month, Year Result
Rangana Herath LAS Sri Lanka 33.1 3 127 9 2 Pakistan Colombo SSC Aug 2014 W
Johnny Briggs LAS England 14.2 5 11 8 3 South Africa Cape Town Mar 1989 W
Hedley Verity LAS England 22.3 8 43 8 3 Australia Lord’s Jun 1934 W
Derek Underwood LAS England 34.5 17 51 8 3 Pakistan Lord’s Aug 1974 D
Vinoo Mankad LAS India 47 27 52 8 2 Pakistan Delhi Oct 1954 W
Vinoo Mankad LAS India 38.5 15 55 8 1 England Chennai Feb 1952 W
Clarlie Blythe LAS England 15.5 1 59 8 2 South Africa Leeds Jul 1907 W
Mitchell Johnson LF Australia 24 4 61 8 2 South Africa Perth Dec 2008 L
Wilfred Rhodes LAS England 15 0 68 8 4 Australia Melbourne Jan 2004 W
Alf Valentine LAS West Indies 50 14 104 8 1 England Manchester Jun 1950 L
Jack White LAS England 64.5 21 126 8 4 Australia Adelaide Feb 1929 W

+ 4 ball over
LAS – Left arm slow
LF – Left arm fast 

 

Most wickets in a Test match by left-arm bowlers

Bowler Type For O M R W Opposition Venue Month, Year Result
Johnny Briggs LAS England 33.3+ 16 28 15 South Africa Cape Town Mar 1889 W
Charlie Blythe LAS England 38.3 10 99 15 South Africa Leeds Jul 2007 W
Hedley Verity LAS England 58.3 23 104 15 Australia Lord’s Jun 1934 W
Wilfred Rhodes LAS England 30.2 3 124 15 Australia Melbourne Jan 2004 W
Rangana Herath LAS Sri Lanka 55.2 5 184 14 Pakistan Colombo SSC Aug 2014 W
Chaminda Vaas LFM Sri Lanka 57.2 8 191 14 West Indies Colombo SSC Dec 2001 W

+ 4 ball over
LAS – Left arm slow
LF – Left arm fast-medium

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Thanks to Herath’s efforts, the Sri Lanka-Pakistan series saw 43 of the 69 wickets fall to left-arm bowlers. In a two-match Test series, this now occupies the second position in terms of maximum wickets for left-arm bowlers. The only occasion this tally has been surpassed was in 1889 – 125 years ago – when 49 wickets fell to six left-arm bowlers in the inaugural Test series in South Africa. The table below has all the details.

Most wickets claimed by left-arm bowlers (for both sides) in a two-match Test series

No of Bowlers Innings Balls Runs Wkts Best Avg R/O Strike rate 5w 10w Season Series winner Series Total wkts % of wkts
6 17 1430 594 49 8/11 12.12 2.49 29.18 4 1 1888-89 England Eng in SA 59 83.05
5 14 2143 1118 43 9/127 26.00 3.13 49.84 4 1 2014 Sri Lanka Pak in SL 69 62.31
6 12 2069 777 41 6/28 18.95 2.25 50.46 5 1 2004-05 New Zealand NZ in Ban 55 74.55
6 16 1965 998 35 5/64 28.51 3.04 56.14 2 0 2010-11 India Aus in Ind 69 50.72
5 15 1751 571 34 6/12 16.79 1.95 51.50 3 1 1970-71 England Eng in NZ 59 57.63

 

Note: The most wickets claimed by left-arm bowlers in any Test series is 86 out of 168 wkts (51.19%) in the India v England five-match series in India in 1976-77 (England won the series).

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Finally, Jayawardene, ended his long and distinguished 17-year Test career spanning 149 matches, with 11814 runs at an average just short of 50. His final innings of 54 was his 50th half-century, over and above his 34 Test centuries. Jayawardene had made his Test debut as a 20-year old in the famous Colombo Test at the Premadasa Stadium in August 1997, when Sri Lanka amassed a mammoth total of 952 for 6, the most ever in an innings. Interestingly, he came out to bat for the first time only on the fifth and final day of the Test, when he made 66 runs. By scoring 54 in his final innings at Colombo, he joins a select band of 21 cricketers to have the distinction of making a 50+ score in both their debut innings and their final innings in Tests. He is first Sri Lankan to achieve this and the fifth from the subcontinent. The table below provides the details.

50+ scores by a subcontinent batsman in both their debut innings and final innings in Tests

Batsman Score For Opp Venue Month, Year Position Mt Inn Result Test No.
Dilawar Hussain 59 Ind Eng Kolkata Jan 1934 2 2 Drawn
54 Ind Eng The Oval Aug 1936 3 3 Lost 3rd Test
Abdul Kadir 95 Pak Aus Karachi Oct 1964 2 1 Drawn
58 Pak NZ Auckland Feb 1965 2 3 Drawn 4th Test
Sunil Gavaskar 65 Ind WI Port-of-Spain Mar 1971 2 2 Won
96 Ind Pak Bangalore Mar 1987 1 4 Lost 125th Test
Mohd Azharuddin 110 Ind Eng Kolkata Jan 1985 5 1 Drawn
102 Ind RSA Bangalore Mar 2000 5 3 Lost 99th Test
Mahela Jayawardene 66 SL Ind Colombo RPS Aug 1997 6 2 Drawn
54 SL Pak Colombo SSC Aug 2014 4 3 Won 149th Test