Dhananjaya de Silva carved a splendid 109 to lift Sri Lanka from the Dumps to a respectable 244 to which New Zealand had replied with an imposing 196 for 4 wickets with Tom Latham becoming the second centurion with an unbeaten 111 at stumps on the third day of the second Test match played at the P. Saravanamuththu International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. With 6 wickets intact, New Zealand will have light of wiping-out the 48 runs deficit when play resumes tomorrow in what will predictably dictate the destiny of the match.
The most striking factor about the 27-year old right hand Dhananjaya de Silva has been the dependability he has infused to the Sri Lankan batting department; a fact he did well demonstrated in striking a fighting century against the high riding Indians in the last home series. It is this essence of sheer grit that has seen Dhananjaya cement permanency in the team in but a few years since debuting against Australia in July, 2016, and Sri Lanka certainly owed much to de Silva in battling the side to a face saving first innings total.
Dropped he was early on when just on scratch, but that is how the game of cricket goes, and make New Zealand pay for it he did as he ground his way to his fifth Test century off 148 balls packed with 16 boundaries and 2 sixes and consuming 228 minutes. The great thing about his innings was how he paced his century against the odds of the wafer thin tail for company in No.10 Lasith Embuldeniya for company as de Silva tight roped his way in the nineties, usually the nervous nineties to most batsmen, but not to the Sri Lankan who displayed tremendous resolve in reaching the magical mark with a boundary and went on to crash Trent Boult through extra cover for four, but soon after was cleaned up middle stump by Boult as he heaved and missed a good length delivery. But it was little compensation for the premier Kiwi paceman as he had let the Sri Lankan off the hook by dropping a straight forward catch the previous day. De Silva figured in productive partnerships adding 41 for the seventh wicket with Dilruwan Perera and 43 for the eighth wicket with Suranga Lakmal. New Zealand recovered from 1 for 1, 2 for 34 and 3 for 84 thanks to Latham’s 184-ball knock containing 10 boundaries after losing Raval for a duck to Dilruwan Perera who had him well held by Dhananjaya de Silva at slip and skipper Kane Williamson dismissed by Lahiru Kumara for 20 also taken by Silva and Ross Taylor for 23 off Lasith Embuldeniya on a day Dhananjaya capped a superb all-round performance with his third slip catch victim and Henry Nicholls (15) his fourth to give Dilruwan his second wicket.
However, Latham stood firm figuring in an unbroken 70-run alliance for the fifth wicket with B.J. Watling who was on 25 off 62 balls. Incidentally, Watling became New Zealand’s highest scoring wicket-keeper batsman in tests with 2807 runs surpassing Brandon McCullum’s 2803 runs.
Sri Lanka 244 All Out (92.2 Overs) Run Rate: 2.7
(D.M. de Silva 109, F.D.M. Karunaratne 65, B.K.G. Mendis 32, M.D.K. Perera 13, R.A.S. Lakmal 10, T.G. Southee 4/63, T.A. Boult 3/75)
New Zealand 196/4 (62 Overs) Run Rate: 3.16
(T.W.M. Latham n.o. 111, B.J. Watling n.o. 25, L.R.P.L. Taylor 23, K.S. Williamson 20, H.M. Nicholls 15, M.D.K. Perera 2/76)
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-