Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal has described Rangana Herath as a “wily old fox”, saying he would love to continue playing alongside him during the rest of his career.
With Herath aged 39, he proved that there’s plenty left in the tank on the final day with a stellar display as Sri Lanka condemned Pakistan to a 21-run loss in the first Test – their first Test defeat in Abu Dhabi since 2010.
The spinner claimed his 100th wicket against Pakistan and his 400th Test scalp, finishing with 11-139 including a second innings 6-43 as Pakistan were all out for 114 in their chase of 136 on day five.
And Chandimal had nothing but praise for the veteran following his heroic performance in the UAE capital.
“First of all, I have to say Rangana is a team man,” said the 27-year-old, who won his first Test match as skipper. “He is supportive to me and the players with what he has learnt from cricket.
“Every young player goes to talk to him about his bowling and experiences. He is a wily old fox. He’s a good asset to the team.
“Looking to the future, yes, he is 39, a little bit old now, but he always tries to do his best.
“I just want him throughout my career. I have no idea how long he is going to play, but I am sure he will do what he can for the team.”
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) October 2, 2017
The win sees them bounce back from their 3-0 home series defeat to India and the batsman, who scored a century in the first innings to set up the victory, said there’s a vibrant atmosphere within the camp.
“We are a family. We didn’t feel that heat as we were binding as a family,” he said. “That is the difference we had in this game.
“The credit goes to all the players. They played some really good cricket. We did more work on our fitness and fielding, and discipline. Everyone put their heart and soul into the practices, and the management put lots of hard work in.”
Both sides travel to Dubai with Sri Lanka knowing if they avoid defeat in the second day-night Test from Friday, they will seal the two-match series.
But Chandimal is wary of a backlash from Pakistan.
“We all know Pakistan are a very good team,” he said. “We never underestimated them. This win will boost our morale.
“For the next game also, we just want to do our basics right because we know they are really good and can be dangerous at any time. As a team, we need to prepare for that.”