March 31st 2014, a night any Sri Lankan cricket fan would be hard pressed to forget, forget Sri Lankan cricket fans, it was a night the cricketing world would be hard pressed to forget-The night when Herath Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath was, as Nasser Hussain described it, “all over the New Zealanders like a rash” at the ICC World Twenty20.

Coming into what was virtually a quarter final clash against a team which they had faced regularly in knockout games of late, Sri Lanka definitely had the upper hand, particularly considering the conditions on hand. It was a landmark game for many reasons, the stepping down of Dinesh Chandimal and the appointment of Lasith Malinga as skipper for the rest of the tournament taking precedence. Hardly anyone really made mention of Rangana Herath taking “mystery spinner” Ajantha Mendis’ place in the XI after sitting out the first 3 games of the tournament. After the 1st innings was done and dusted, it seemed to matter little as surely not even Sri Lanka’s battery of unorthodox bowlers could defend 120.

Early in the innings news came in that Corey Anderson would not bat after having dislocated his finger attempting a catch at long-on, it provided some respite to the Lankans but with a batting line-up boasting of Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, it didn’t seem to count for much. Three overs of medium pace from Angelo Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekara were seen off with comfort, 18 runs put on the board.

“මම 100% සැමවිටම ක්‍රීඩා කළේ රට වෙනුවෙන් “ – රංගන හේරත්

The ball is thrown to Herath, in his first delivery Guptill pushes to mid-on and sets off immediately, Williamson is not at all interested, and Herath, creaking knees and all, cuts the ball in its path and sends in a rocket throw to the keeper, catching Guptill well short.

One down.

Out walks Maverick McCullum and the magic begins.

Ball 1: a brilliantly flighted delivery, McCullum comes forward and plays a solid defensive shot.

Ball 2: another flighted delivery, this time angling towards the leg, McCullum looks to work it off his toes but misses.

Ball 3: flight and dip once again, McCullum pads it into the covers.

The nerves are palpable now. No way McCullum will play down another dot ball, regardless of the fact that New Zealand only require just over 6 per over.

Ball 4: the arm ball, quicker and with less flight this time, McCullum wears it on his pad. A huge appeal goes up but the ball is heading down the leg and the appeal is rightfully denied.

Ball 5: more tempting flight, this time a little wider. McCullum can no longer resist, he’s lured out of his crease swing from his hips. The ball spins past the flashing blade and Sanga does the rest.

Two down.

In his next over, the last of the powerplay, Herath gets his chance against Ross Taylor, arguably New Zealand’s best player of spin bowling at the time.

Ball 1: tossed up on middle, Taylor defends as McCullum had before him

Ball 2: the ball rips away from Taylor who does well to get his behind it at the last moment.

Ball 3: another one coming into the pads, the ball lobs to short leg, a stifled appeal declined.

Ball 4: this one spins away and catches Taylor on his back pad. Caught right in front of the stumps, Taylor is lucky to survive.

Loud curses and shouts of “Umpire Hora” reverberate in the living rooms around Sri Lanka, is this the turning point of the game?

Ball 5: This time Taylor is nailed right in front of middle. He comes forward to defend but doesn’t cover the line.

Three Down.

In the absence of Anderson, Jimmy Neesham walks in. Herath tosses one up, Neesham leaves a big gap between bat and pad and the ball spins prodigiously to crash into leg stump.

Four Down.

In his next over, Herath is on a hat-trick but this time he is up against the guy who is possibly the calmest cricketer in the modern game – Kane Williamson. A block and a flick through mid-wicket later, Herath concedes his 1st run… 14 deliveries after being given the ball.

A huge appeal follows in his next delivery, another one bites the dust. This time it’s Luke Ronchi, trying to flick the ball off the stumps and only succeeding in providing the umpire with another easy LBW decision.

Five Down.

The Sri Lankans have finally found their voice. At 32/5, effectively 32/6 with Anderson’s absence, the target of 120 now seems miles away. Sachithra Senanayake joins the party, picking up Nathan McCullum as Herath is mysteriously taken out of the attack.

Six Down.

A couple of quiet overs later he picks up another wicket, albeit the lucky one of Kyle Mills; another nail in the coffin.

Seven Down.

Herath comes back  in to the attack. With Williamson still at the crease, New Zealand clung on to hope but with 61 required off the last 5 overs, this time it would be New Zealand who were in need of a miracle. Their slim thread of hope was snipped in two when confusion in running between the wickets saw Williamson short of the crease as Herath whipped off the bails at the non-striker’s end.

Eight Down.

Mitchell McClenaghan, who had earlier taken 2/24 to help restrict the Sri Lankans, now walked in as New Zealand’s last batsman. Trent Boult however, would be the man to face up to Herath.

1st ball: a characteristically flighted delivery, just outside the off stump. Boult pushes it towards mid-on but there’s no run there as Herath races after it.

2nd ball: The batsman races down the pitch, Herath drops it short, Boult tries to ride the ensuing spin but guides the ball straight into the waiting hands of Mahela Jayawardene at slip.

Nine Down. The heist is complete.