Life after Murali has been rosy for at least one Sri Lankan, prolific wicket-taker Rangana Herath.
The late bloomer is in a do-or-die battle with England’s Graeme Swann to finish the calendar year with Test cricket’s most scalps.
At last count Swann had 56 at an average of 30.17, one more than Herath whose average is a much more impressive 20.94.
The left-arm orthodox spinner took an extraordinary 20 wickets in his last series, the two home Tests against New Zealand in November.
He says his bowling has grown after stepping out of the shadow of Test cricket’s greatest wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan, who retired in 2010.
“It’s something different,” he told reporters at Bellerive.
“If you’re playing as the main spinner you’re getting more bowling and more confidence as well.
“What I do is stick to the basics so that’s how I’ve taken those wickets.”
“It’s been a good year for me compared to the last two or three years.”
Herath will be favoured to top the list with the Hobart and Melbourne Tests against Australia to come before the new year.
Swann has one more match, against India in Nagpur.
For 34-year-old Herath, success has been a while coming after he debuted against Australia in 1999.
But he proved a thorn in the side of Michael Clarke’s tourists in 2011, taking 16 wickets at 23 and removing the Australian skipper in three of his four innings.
With the myth that Bellerive is a seamer’s paradise shattered by statistics showing spinners have better averages in the last 10 Tests at the venue, Herath is eyeing a big contribution on days four and five.
“We have done our homework. We have another three days to come so we’ll do some work in the coming three days,” he said.
“We have a plan for every batsman so we’ll stick with our plans.”