Herath, Mendis rocket up rankings

Rangana Herath (AP)
Rangana Herath (AP)

Pallekele - Rangana Herath and Kusal Mendis have charged up the ICC Test player rankings after steering Sri Lanka to a 106-run victory over number-one ranked Australia in the first Test in Pallekele on Saturday.

It was only the second Test victory for Sri Lanka over Australia, the previous one being way back in September 1999.

Herath, who took four for 49 and five for 54, returned to the top 10 in ninth position after rising four places in the bowling chart, while Mendis, who won the player of the match award for his 176 in the second innings, vaulted 27 places to 21st position in the batting table.

Herath’s rise meant he opened up a nine-position gap on his nearest team-mate Dhammika Prasad, who is nursing a shoulder injury. The Sri Lanka left-arm spinner is also the fourth spinner inside the top 10 after number-one ranked Ravichandaran Ashwin of India, Pakistan’s fifth-ranked Yasir Shah and sixth-ranked Ravindra Jadeja of India.

For Australia, the good news was the movement of fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who moved up one place to seventh, while left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe climbed six places to 65th.

Mendis’s rise meant he became the third highest-ranked Sri Lanka batsman after Angelo Mathews (12th after dropping two places) and Dinesh Chandimal (20th). Dimuth Karunaratne was 36th (after slipping two places) and Kaushal Silva was 43rd (after falling seven places).

The batting list was headed by Australia captain Steve Smith, although his 24-point gap with England’s second-ranked Joe Root was trimmed to 20 points.

With Root to feature against Pakistan in the third Test at Edgbaston on 3 August, and Smith to face Sri Lanka in the second Test in Galle on 4 August, it will be interesting to follow how the two batsmen perform as their performances will have direct impacts on their rankings.

The other good news for Australia was the movement of Adam Voges, who broke into the top five in fifth position for the first time. Voges scored 47 and 12, to trail South Africa’s fourth-ranked Hashim Amla by 40 points.

Australia openers David Warner and Joe Burns, and one-down batsman Usman Khawaja, all lost ground in the latest rankings, which were updated following the conclusion of the Bulawayo Test.

Warner shared 10th position with India captain Virat Kohli after sliding three places, whereas Khawaja and Burns slipped two places each to claim 29th and 35th positions, respectively.

Bulawayo centurions on the move

Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, BJ Watling (all New Zealand) and Sean Williams (Zimbabwe) made impressive gains in the rankings following the Bulawayo Test, which New Zealand won by an innings and 117 runs on Sunday.

Taylor, who won the player of the match award for his 173 not out, moved up three places to 12th while Latham and Watling shared 30th position after rising two and five places, respectively.

Williams was vrewarded for his 119, his maiden Test century, in the second innings by returning to the rankings in 79th position.

Fast bowler Neil Wagner achieved a career-high 13th ranking after his figures of six for 41 in the first innings and two for 62 in the second innings gave him a lift of four places. He trails eighth-ranked Trent Boult by 70 points and 12th-ranked Tim Southee by 15 points.

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner’s three wickets in the match gave him a rise of 14 places and put him in 59th spot, while his team-mate Ish Sodhi returned in 66th position.

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