Randiv supplants Mendis, Herath as premier spinner

Randiv supplants Mendis, Herath as premier spinner

Randiv supplants Mendis, Herath as premier spinner

The answer, in probability, is a slight, unassuming 25-year-old going by the name of Suraj Randiv.

Only two Tests old, Randiv has already supplanted Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath as the premier spinner in the Lankan ranks, a status that has come not on the back of the bewildering mix Mendis possesses or the steady accuracy that is left-arm spinner Herath’s forte.

Randiv is a classical off-spinner who relies on the tried and trusted virtues of flight, loop, dip and turn. He is in the main easy to read, except when he slips in the beautifully disguised straighter one with no discernible change in action, but is an extremely difficult proposition to negotiate, the bounce he gets off the surface making him doubly dangerous.

Having already made a mark in the limited-overs version, Randiv’s Test debut was fast-tracked by Muralitharan’s retirement after the Galle Test. He had unflattering figures of two for 222 in 73 overs at the SSC shirtfront, both the runs conceded and overs bowled a record for a Sri Lankan debutant, but even then, India’s celebrated batsmen had spoken highly of his consistency, accuracy and the size of his heart.

On a more responsive track at the P Sara Oval, Randiv single-handedly threatened to bowl Sri Lanka to victory, picking up all five Indian second-innings wickets but lacking any support worth the name at the other end. His control was astonishing for someone with so little experience of international cricket; he often bowled round the stumps with seven men on the on-side, but hardly did he drag the ball down and was cut no more than thrice, if that, during 29 testing overs, though the propensity to attack meant he did gift some easy runs even through the packed on-side.

“His greatest asset has been his confidence and self-belief,” skipper Kumar Sangakkara noted. “He’s quite an attacking bowler and he’s got to have that license to concede some runs because bowlers like that go for a few more than usual. He has got great bounce but he will have to ensure that he keeps building the pressure with dot balls and wicket-taking balls. Once he gets that done, he will be even better than what we see now.”
That he is an orthodox, conventional bowler, unlike Mendis of the carom ball lore, should stand him in good stead because there is no great mystery for batsmen to work out. What you see is what you get with Randiv, but what you get is more than a handful.

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