Farveez Maharoof had a tough 18 months, but finally had something to celebrate when he took a hat-trick en route to his second five-wicket haul. After being a regular in the limited-overs squads for several years until early 2008, a rash of injuries and the emergence of Angelo Mathews as a competitor for the allrounder’s spot has kept him out of the one-day squad.
After missing international cricket due to side strains, abdominal strains, ankle injuries and groin injuries, he made a comeback in the Asia Cup. He had a rough return in the opening match of the tournament when a rampaging Shahid Afridi smashed him for a couple of sixes in an over, leading to Maharoof’s omission from the game against Bangladesh. He was only part of the XI today since it was a dead rubber and Sri Lanka decided to rest two of their first-choice quick bowlers, Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara.
Aravinda de Silva, Sri Lanka’s new chairman of selectors, had said the side could include two allrounders – Mathews providing more value as a batsman and Maharoof to bolster the bowling. Maharoof was entrusted with the new ball against India, and he hardly enjoyed himself against the openers, Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Karthik, who took him for at least a boundary an over in his opening spell.
Dambulla has been one of Maharoof’s favourite grounds – he captured ten wickets in three one-dayers against England towards the end of 2007 – and his fortunes improved during his second spell, where he had Virat Kohli nibbling a catch to Kumar Sangakkara.
The best was yet to come, though. Sri Lanka were looking to capitalise on the run-out of MS Dhoni against the run of play, after he had calmly accumulated 79 runs with Rohit Sharma. Maharoof delivered when it mattered. Ravindra Jadeja’s batting credentials took another beating after he missed his first delivery to be lbw. Praveen Kumar managed to get bat on ball the next delivery, but it was only an inside-edge onto the stumps.