(Reuters) - Lasith Malinga was so jittery in his debut as Sri Lanka's stand-in captain that he fumbled recalling the changes to the playing XI at the toss for Monday's World Twenty20 shootout against New Zealand.
Rangana Herath, one of the two inclusions, spared Malinga any further embarrassment on his captaincy debut, conjuring up a lethal display of spin bowling that eliminated New Zealand and put Sri Lanka in the last four.
The 36-year-old spinner came off the bench to deliver a man-of-the-match award-winning performance, claiming five wickets for just three runs in 3.3 overs to rout New Zealand.
He was involved in two run outs as well and all these while defending a modest total after Sri Lanka had collapsed for what looked like a below-par 119 in 19.2 overs.
"What I realised was we needed wickets and I put the ball in the right place, that's it," Herath said, making it sound pretty simple.
Picked only after Ajantha Mendis flopped against England, Herath made an immediate impact. He did not concede a single run in his first 13 deliveries that yielded three wickets, including that of the scoreless duo of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor.
To an extent, Herath was aided by the fact that dew was not as heavy as it had been in Chittagong in recent matches.
"Luckily the dew wasn't there today but we had a bad game against England. Nothing was wrong today, no dew."
Asked what guidance he was given by a captain determined to defend a modest total, Herath said, "Malinga was asking me to do what I can do, nothing more."
Malinga paid tribute to the spinner.
"Rangana was waiting for his chance and he got his chance today. He proved how to (win a match) for Sri Lanka," said the maverick paceman.
Malinga led Sri Lanka in the absence of Dinesh Chandimal, who served a one-match ban for his team's second over-rate offence in 12 months.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Pritha Sarkar)