Silva ton helps Sri Lanka to 288-run lead

Daily Mirror — August 17, 2016

Painting a picture of patience Kaushal Silva put Sri Lanka in control of the third and final Warne-Muralitharan Trophy Test, as fourth day stumps were drawn with the home team already 288 runs ahead of Australia, on Tuesday.

A declaration seemed a possibility at the tail end of the day but Sri Lanka decided to bat out till close and were on 312 for eight.

Silva and his opening partner Dimuth Karunaratne have been under pressure following a string of poor performances — neither having scored a century in the at least the last ten months — but had received a vote of confidence from skipper Angelo Mathews in the lead up to the match, who said he believed that both batsmen would come good soon enough.

On Tuesday, one did.

While a lapse of concentration cost Karunaratne his wicket, Silva made the most of the chance, with an innings of grit, grind and low risk despite batting with a split webbing in his left hand.

He survived a review early in the day, when a ball spun sharply and he could not get himself in a proper position to flick the ball. Kaushal was hit on the thigh, and Umpire Chris Gaffaney sided with the bowler’s appeal giving him out leg before wicket.

He reviewed, and the DRS confirmed the on-field umpire was correct on two of the three requirements — the line and point of impact — but the ball was projected to miss the stumps and the decision was overturned.

He gave little away in his innings, and the only real lapse in concentration came in the over before tea bowled by Mitchell Starc when he swung at one outside the off-stump but missed the ball.

Silva scored his century after the break, coming in 251 balls, and he celebrated animatedly, with Vice-Captain Dinesh Chandimal.

Silva’s 362-minute innings — ended when on 115 he edged Jon Holland to Steven Smith in the 82nd over of the day — not only guaranteed his immediate future in the team, but also guided Sri Lanka who were in a precarious position in the first session, at 98 for four.

It was Silva’s third Test century in 56 innings, and the first on his home ground at the SSC Grounds.

The first session yesterday turned out to be the most productive in the match for the hosts producing 87 runs, but the three wickets lost meant that Australia would also have been satisfied.

Sri Lanka began the day on 22 for one still two runs behind the Aussies, and it took all of two balls for Sri Lanka to erase that deficit and move into the lead, when Dimuth Karunaratne clipped Nathan Lyon for a boundary.

Karunaratne would add one more boundary to his score before getting himself out in the most innocuous and careless of manners. Having been figuratively stumped by a Nathan Lyon delivery that turned in sharply Karunaratne lifted his back foot off the ground for a split second, which was enough time for keeper Peter Nevill to literally stump him, out for 22 — his first double-digit score of the series.

Kusal Perera, the new batsman, took four balls to get his first run, but scored 23 from his next 20 balls as he played a typically aggressive knock.

Two sweeps and a straight drive — all three boundaries coming in the 17th over off Holland — got him to 13 off 10, before he brought out the reverse sweep two balls later, with a boundary square on the off-side.

The same shot got him his fifth boundary two overs later, but also ended up costing him his wicket, contentiously, not long after. Attempting a reverse sweep, the ball took a deflection off the batsman and looped to Nevill who claimed the catch. Umpire S. Ravi turned down the appeal, but Steven Smith chose to review it, and Third Umpire Richard Kettleborough overturned the decision, though from replays there was little conclusive evidence to over-rule the on-field call.

Kusal Mendis, also made a good start, racing to 18 off 13 balls with two sixes and a boundary. An over later however, Mitchell Starc was introduced into the attack and with the second ball deceived Mendis for pace and had him trapped leg before wicket for the same score.

All the while Silva continued his saunter and he and skipper Mathews took Sri Lanka to lunch on 109 for four, and the pair extended their partnership to the 50-run mark after the break.

Eleven overs after lunch, Smith brought himself into bowl, and even though he could not get the breakthrough, he was involved in the wicket that came, in the next over, when the ball lobbed off Mathews’ glove to the Aussie Captain. It ended a partnership of 90 runs between the fifth-wicket pair of Silva and Mathews, Sri Lanka’s highest partnership of the innings.

The remaining 17 overs of the session yielded only 31 runs, as Sri Lanka slowed down the scoring-rate and went into tea on 187 for five and a lead of 163, with Silva and Chandimal at the crease.

It was more of the same till the Aussies took the new ball at the end of the 80 overs — Chandimal was dismissed for 43 three balls before it became available — when Sri Lanka started showing a little more intent in their approach.

First innings centurion Dhananjaya de Silva remained unbeaten scoring 44 off 56 balls — two of his seven boundaries came in the last over — but wickets fell at the other end with Silva and Herath both caught at slip.


Originally published at www.wisdenindia.com on August 16, 2016.

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