Sri Lanka finds another new hero in Dhananjaya
Sri Lanka has new heroes emerging from the ongoing three-Test series
against Australia and yesterday it was the turn of Dhananjaya de Silva,
one of the lesser known cricketers because he surfaced from a quartet of
schools like Lalith Athulathmudali Vidyalaya, Ratmalana, Debarawewa MV
Hambantota, Mahanama College and eventually Richmond College Galle.
Dhananjaya de Silva celebrating his maiden Test hundred.
(Pix by Samantha Weerasiri)
De Silva came to the wicket with Sri Lanka reeling at 26 for five
wickets and was still there at stumps unbeaten on 116 helping his team
to recover to a more respectable total of 214 for five.
When Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara retired from
international cricket a year or so ago there was a crying need for
batsmen to fill the void they created in the national team.
For a couple of years Sri Lanka had to undergo the pain of defeats as
their batting failed to put up the required totals for their bowlers to
win matches. They tried a few of them who failed to deliver but in the
ongoing series against the world no. 1 ranked Test team Australia they
have unearthed two.
At Galle it was the exceptional batting of Kusal Mendis who converted
his maiden Test century into one of winning proportions with a
magnificent 176 that turned the first Test in Sri Lanka’s favour.
Yesterday at the SSC grounds – the opening day of the third and final
Test it was 24-year-old newcomer Dhananjaya de Silva playing in only his
third Test to showcase his talent by scoring his maiden Test hundred.
What were creditable of that innings were the circumstances under which
he made those runs.
Having won the toss for a rare consecutive third time (for Angelo
Mathews) Sri Lanka found themselves with half the side out for just 26
runs on the board within the first 75 minutes of play.
Mitchell Starc with the new ball snapped up both out of form openers
Silva and Karunaratne (for the fifth time out of five innings) for 0 and
7 respectively and then the prize wicket of Kusal Mendis for one. The
damage to the Lankan innings from the other end was done by spinner
Brought into the attack by the sixth over he dismissed Kusal Perera
for 16 and skipper Mathews for one. Sri Lanka found themselves in this
position though a mixture of terrible batting against disciplined
bowling by the Australians. The SSC pitch expected to be bone dry yet
played to its true potential yielding assistant to the bowlers in the
first session and then settling down for the rest of the day.
Sri Lanka’s new batting hero Dhananjaya de Silva batting
against Australia on the opening day of the third and final
Test at the SSC grounds yesterday
The nip and bite the Australian bowlers got out of it was missing
when they came out after lunch. Although it was not an easy wicket to
bat, there was less venom in it. Following the mayhem that followed in
the first session of play cricket settled down to be played in a more
meaningful manner when Dhananjaya de Silva joined vice-captain Dinesh
Chandimal and the two set about doing the repair job. They batted
throughout the next two sessions to dim Australian hopes of a
breakthrough and place Sri Lanka firmly in a position they never looked
like achieving at the end of the first session. The way De Silva batted
right from the first ball he exuded confidence and there was never a
doubt of a struggle against the Aussies attack as his team mates had
displayed before him.
The ease with which de Silva took on the Australian bowling cracking
16 fours in his 240-ball innings gave his partner Chandimal the
confidence to play second fiddle and be unbeaten on 64 at the end of the
day in a partnership that is now worth 188 off 442 balls. It is a new
sixth wicket record for Sri Lanka against Australia and the second
highest for any wicket against the same opposition after the 230 between
Asanka Gurusinha and Arjuna Ranatunga at the same venue in 1992.
The two dug in deep to frustrate the Australians who were cock-a-hoop
at the end of the first session. By the 46th over Australia had
exhausted both their reviews on De Silva - one when he was on 43 when
they reviewed a catch behind the wicket off Holland and at 51 for an lbw
decision off Mitchell Marsh. De Silva also had his moment when he
successfully overturned a bat/pad catch off Nathan Lyon at five, and
survived a dropped catch at 104 to Shaun Marsh at short extra cover off
Starc with the second new ball.
At the start of series the fight for the no. 7 position was between
De Silva and and Roshen Silva. De Silva got the nod because of his
ability to bowl spin and because he was also an opener who could bat
anywhere in the order. As expected Sri Lanka included Suranga Lakmal for
Vishwa Fernando, but Australia made two changes leaving out batsmen Joe
Burns and Usman Khawaja
for Shaun Marsh and Portugal-born all-rounder Moises Henriques who
surprisingly didn’t get a bowl yesterday.
Sri Lanka leads the three-match series 2-0.
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS
K Silva c Smith b Starc 00
D Karunaratne b Starc 07
K Perera c Smith b Lyon 16
K Mendis c Smith b Starc 01
A Mathews c Starc b Lyon 01
D Chandimal not out 64
D de Silva not out 116
Extras (b-4, lb-5) 09
Total (5 wickets at close, 90 overs) 214
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Silva), 2-21(K Perera), 3-23 (Karunaratne)
4-24(Mathews), 5-26 (Mendis)
To bat: D Perera, R Herath, L Sandakan, S Lakmal.
Bowling: Starc 18-7-47-3
M Marsh 5-0-20-0
AUSTRALIA: S Marsh, D Warner, S Smith, A Voges, M Henriques
M Marsh, P Nevill, M Starc, N Lyon, J Hazlewood, J Holland