Hero Herath climbs high as Sanga seals his number 1 ranking

Daminda Wijesuriya reporting from South Africa

The Durban hero, Rangana Herath achieved his career-best ranking among test bowlers, in the ICC Player Rankings after his heroic performances in the second cricket test, which Sri Lanka won by 208 runs at Durban on Thursday.

Herath claimed a match bag of nine for 128 at Durban to leap frog six places and claimed the seventh position among the current test bowlers. This is great news for Sri Lanka. Herath is the only Sri Lankan bowler, to be ranked among the top ten test bowlers, since the retirement of legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, seventeen months ago.

Soon after Sri Lanka's triumph at Durban, the architect of the win simply summed up his feelings saying, "I can't believe it. This is historic" Even without being considered as an all-rounder, the stocky left hander has acquired the 89th position in test batting rankings too. This is totally due to his gusty performances late in the batting order.

Left arm seamer, Chanaka Welegedara climbed six places up in the ladder to grab the 29th position with an impressive five wicket haul on the first innings at Durban. It's a clear sign of improvement of the bowler who bowled his heart out at the Centurion test to claim three wickets.

The good news here is when the bowlers move up in the rankings, there is a greater possibility to win matches than batsmen who move up in the ranking list. Dilhara Fernando is ranked in 38th position while Angelo Matthews, who is considered as an all-rounder, has sunk to the 91st place among bowlers.

Despite getting out for low scores at Centurion, Kumar Sangakkara sealed his number one position among the test batsmen with a defiant 108 against all odds at Durban. His closest rival to the spot, Jacques Kallis, lost more than 50 ranking points and slipped to the fourth place after 149 test matches.
The fact is that the elegant left hander has stamped his position as the number one batsman, after being the eighth Sri Lankan to score a zero and century in the same test. That alone shows the character of a man who can stay on top for long periods.

Thilan Samaraweera, dropped for the series against Pakistan without any valid reason, once again proved his mettle as a test batsman and reached to 13th place with a century at Durban. The latest sensation and the wicketkeeper batsman, Dinesh Chandimal, rocketed to 54th position among the test batsmen with twin fifties on his test début at Durban. Chandimal, having a great future as a front line batsman at number 3 or 4, batted in the relatively unusual middle order on his debut, with the added responsibilities of being the stumper of the side.

Interestingly, the two best number three batsmen that Sri Lanka has ever produced (in the test era), Asanka Gurusinghe and Kumar Sangakkara, have also made their test debuts as wicket keepers.
Currently, Mahela Jayawardane is ranked at 25th while T. M. Dilshan is still searching to find his usual form from 33rd position and Angelo Matthews is struggling to find his way up at the 37th slot.
The series decider, Cape Town test will show the mettle of these players and of course it's an anybody's game at the southern tip of South Africa,
The test starts on Tuesday, with series leveled 1-1.

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