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Lasith: Trusted my spinners...

Rangana Herath, after dismissing Luke Ronchi, during Sri Lanka’s World T20 tie against New Zealand, in Chittagong, on Monday. Herath picked up five wickets for a mere 3 runs as Sri Lanka won by 59 runs. (AFP)

Calcutta: Saying Rangana Herath had an unbelievable outing at Chittagong on Monday would be an understatement. The spinner returned figures of 3.3-2-3-5 as Sri Lanka toyed with New Zealand, thrashing them by 59 runs.

Topping Group 1 with Monday’s victory, the Sri Lankans ensured their place in the last four.

Herath not only picked up five wickets, he also had a hand in the run out of the New Zealand openers. He was included in the team for Monday’s match only because Ajantha Mendis flopped against England, and made an immediate impact.

Brendon McCullum must be ruing the fact that they allowed Sri Lanka to bat first. But perhaps he could not have anticipated the complete domination of the Sri Lanka spinners, specially the devastation that Herath caused. Sri Lanka managed 119 and then bowled out New Zealand for a paltry 60.

Apart from Kane Williamson, who scored 42, none of the New Zealanders could manage double-figure scores. Four failed to open their account and Corey Anderson could not bat because of injury.

For Lasith Malinga, standing in for Dinesh Chandimal who missed the match with a suspension, the victory could not have been sweeter. In what was virtually a quarter-final match, he ably led his team to the next round and said he was “lucky” to be the captain in this match.

But for Corey Anderson, luck was not really on his side on Monday. Not only did he return wicket-less, but he also could not contribute with a bat as he dislocated his finger while attempting a catch and could not come out to bat later.

Excerpts

Lasith Malinga: This pitch has been slow consistently. I trusted my spinners, especially Herath who was unbelievable in the virtual quarter-final match. We were waiting for an occasion like this and we pulled through.

I feel really lucky to have captained this match. I had players like Angelo Mathews, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekeratne Dilshan to help me while I am captaining the side. They are experienced and they guided me well. Herath was waiting for his chance and he proved himself really well. We have some other good spinners in Ajantha Mendis and Seekkuge Prasanna who are waiting for their opportunities. Lahiru Thirimanne played well today.

Going into the semi-finals, I feel we have a good opportunity to do well as we have turning wickets in Dhaka and there is also very less amount of dew in the outfield compared to Chittagong.

Brendon McCullum: We did a good job restricting them to 119. But at the halfway stage we knew there was a lot of hard work still left to do.

We needed to play some positive cricket in the first six overs. The wicket was a bit dry than what we expected. It did not skid on as we had expected. Herath and Sachithra Senanayake bowled brilliantly. Together they blew us away with seven wickets for six runs.

I wouldn’t say there was extra pressure on us, it was a quarter final anyway. We just didn’t adapt ourselves to the wicket and played some mindless cricket. While batting, we took some poor decisions on the field and as a result, we’re on the plane for home. That is why Sri Lanka are in the semis and congratulations to them.

Rangana Herath (MoM): What I realised was that we needed to pick up quick wickets. From my end, I just put the ball in the right areas. Luckily for us there wasn’t any dew. We had a bad game against England. But we did nothing wrong in this match. Before we started defending our total, we got into a huddle where Malinga told us to give our best and do whatever we can. We were charged up too.