Sri Lanka began their Under-19 World Cup campaign on an auspicious note when they romped to a thrilling 15-run victory over South Africa in their opening warm-up match at the Braamfischer Oval in Soweto on Sunday.
Taking first lease on winning the toss, Sri Lanka’s Navod Paranavithana played an anchoring role smashing a swashbuckling 64-ball 68 inclusive of 12 fours as wickets kept tumbling. The Sri Lankan opening batsman continued the fine form he displayed when he scored a century against England in Sri Lanka’s recent title triumph of the West Indies triangular as he battled the South African bowlers taking Sri Lanka past the 100-run mark before departing in the 24th over.
On a day the other Sri Lankan frontline batsmen perished, the side owed the win also to the grit of the lower order with Mohamed Shamaaz (32) adding valuable runs to their total of 197 all out with eight balls to spare.
In reply, South Africa’s openers Andrew Louw (15) and Jonathan Bird set the tempo in a 48-run alliance for the first wicket. Bird struck 71 off 76 balls containing 8 fours and a six despite the Lankan bowlers pegging at wickets regularly. But when it looked like the South Africans had the match in their bag, Sri Lanka fought back brilliantly grabbing 5 wickets for 39 runs in a spell of 11 overs as Amshi De Silva led the way claiming 2 vital wickets. The host team was bowled out for 182 despite a valiant 46 from Jack Lees.
Sri Lanka U19 197 All out (48.4 Overs)
(Navod Paranavithana 68, Merrick Brett 2/30)
South Africa 182 All out (44.1 Overs)
(Jonathan Bird 71, Jack Lees 46, Amshi de Silva 2/30)
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-