Sri Lanka took a head on start knocking off 133 of the 268-run victory target propelled by unbeaten half centuries by openers Dimuth Karunaratne who was on 71 and Lahiru Thirimanne on 57 to close the fourth day of the first Test match of the ICC World Test Championship on a high note at the Galle International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
In what was the highest fourth innings opening partnership by a Sri Lankan pair, Sri Lanka could smile down on what looks a light 135 runs more for victory. Indeed, the Lankan openers have set the stage for a perfect Sunday best champagne triumph with Galle home fans assured of their money’s worth.
While Karunaratne led from the front with a composed 71 typified by just the 2 boundaries in his 168-ball knock thus far1 on a waning surface, Thirimanne soon came out of his early shell to sound the boundary line on the leg side hitting 4 clean boundaries in his 132-ball knock as the pair consumed exactly 50 overs on a 2.66 run rate. The grim determination of the Sri Lankan openers was echoed by the consummate calm run pursuance towards the big cake with the first boundary of the innings coming in the 22nd over off Karunaratne’s bat. It was resolute Test batsman ship accentuated on the singles and twos as the hosts inched towards what by all accounts was a daunting target set by the New Zealanders on a Galle surface known to offer treacherous spin on the fourth day. Karunaratne was fortunate to survive a dropped edged cut by Watling in reaching his half century. The Sri Lankan hundred was hoisted by Thirimanne off Watling as he opened up tickling deliveries on the leg side to bring up his half century.
All in all, New Zealand did well to set Sri Lanka an imposing target having taken their overnight score of 195 for 5 to 285 with Watling top scoring with 77 as Sri Lankan spinner Lasith Embuldeniya finished with figures of 4 for 99.
New Zealand 249 and 285 (106 Overs) Run Rate: 2.68
(Watling 77, Embuldeniya 4/99)
Sri Lanka 267 and 133 for no loss. (50 Overs) Run Rate: 2.66
(Karunaratne 71 n.o., Thirimanne 57 n.o.)
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-