The Sri Lankan captain showered praise on Herath whose 11 wickets consigned NZ to a ten-wicket defeat in Galle.
Galle: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has termed Rangana Herath as the second-best spinner he has played with after Muttiah Muralitharan, the most successful bowler in Test history. Herath's five-wicket haul on Monday set the tone for a crushing Sri Lankan win over New Zealand before tea on day three, and gave him match figures of 11 for 108.
"Rangana knows what he is doing with the ball and he knows what the batsman is doing as well," said Jayawardene after the crushing victory over New Zealand, who have now lost five matches in a row. "After Murali, from what I've seen in Sri Lankan cricket, he is the next best thing. Others have chipped in but Rangana has become the leading bowler for us. Because of the pressure he is creating on the opposition and the way he's performed, it has enabled us to be consistent in Test cricket in the last two years or so."
On a dramatic third morning, New Zealand slumped from an overnight 34 for 1 to 118 all out with Herath taking six second-innings wickets to become the leading Test wicket-taker for 2012, surpassing England's Graeme Swann with 46 victims in just his seventh match. The 34-year-old, who made his debut at Galle in 1999, continued his love affair at the venue by extending his tally here to 46 wickets from eight Tests, at an average of 20.30. In 2012, Herath has pouched a staggering 28 wickets in three Tests, with both his career ten-wicket hauls coming at Galle in the same year.
He was duly adjudged Man of the Match. Sri Lanka lead the two-Test series 1-0.