West Indies 34/1 chasing 375 to win
Pathum Nissanka crowned himself in the rare hall of fame glory of becoming the first Sri Lankan batsman to score a century on debut overseas and the fourth Lankan to achieve the magical mark that in a 252-ball center piece innings consuming 341 minutes containing just the 6 boundaries, the goliath on which Sri Lanka rode out of trouble to setting the West Indies a daunting 375-run target for victory on a dramatic fourth day of the first test match at Antigua yesterday. That the milestone effort that put the 22-year old right hander right on top of the Everest of not only crowning himself in the glory of a debut ton, but in the anointment of the first countfyman to do it on foreign soil in riding the debut challenge to the magical in the most challenging circumstances when his side was in a bad way on 259 for 5 indeed bordered on the bold and the beautiful. For, overnight batsman Dhananjaya de Silva on whose experience the side’s fortunes has hinged largely in recent years, had perished with just 6 runs added to the overnight 253 for 4. On a personal note Dhananjaya had completed a pleasing half ton before being bowled by a peach of a Joseph delivery.
It was to open the stage for the ensuing 6-th wicket battle of Pathum Nissanka and wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella in a masterly priceless 201 amassing that was to lift Sri Lanka from what was a threatening situation of losing the initiative to the security of setting up the stage of thrusting for victory from the improbable; improbable given the all aces in the sleeve domination the West Indies had following Sri Lanka’s 169-run first innings precipitation. That in that herculean 163-ball 96-run effort decked with 8 boundaries that it was once again in the culminating emotion of falling short as before to the magical three figure mark by just 4 runs was indeed the hurting part in the otherwise hurray team effort was a sad parting for Dickwella. From the so close ecstasy to the yet so far agony of a personal landmark dream gone to piece, the gallant wicket-keeper batsman’s wait would thus be for another day to mount it all over again.
That Dickwella’s large measure of that priceless contribution has left Sri Lanka on the path to a probable famous victory with the West Indies on 34 for 1 with 341 in the boot for the Lankans to bowl at is the self-consolation in that glint of gold summit touching pairing with his small made partner, the champion batsman Pathum Nissanka as the side presses to walk the distance on day 5. For the product from Galle and NCC player, the master class personal achievement has indeed left the world at his feet as the game of Test cricket beckons an artist to future greatness.
Sri Lanka 169 and 476 (Pathum Nissanka 103,Niroshan Dickwella 96, Oshada Fernando 91, Lahiru Thirimanne 76, Dhananjaya de Silva 50)
West Indies 271 (Cornwall 61, Lakmal 5/47) and 34 for 1 (Brathwaite 8*, Bonner 15*)