By Srian Obeyesekere
On a colourful note of contrasting characteristic significances young colt Nishan Madushka and the old guard skipper Dimuth Karunaratne struck centuries in the very first session as Sri Lanka reached 357 for 1 wicket in closing on Ireland’s 492 on a rain hit third day of the second test match which washed out the final session at the Galle International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
If the Lankan skipper had hogged the early limelight in getting there first notching his second successive ton 119 off 133 balls spiced with 15 boundaries against Ireland and his 16th in test cricket, the day went on to touch epoch makings for the right-handed 23-year old youngster Madushka who made the day his in infusing a waft of the magical shine with a lofted six to his maiden test century in the vein that had propelled him into the test cricket firmament by virtue of a phenomenal entry on a 1000-run domestic landmark in five innings. From there he went on to imbibe his artistry and a mite further in underlining that here was a star with the trimmings of making it count on the international stage when he scored an unbeaten double century for the Sri Lanka A against the British Lions in a recent unofficial test match.
Indeed, when Madushka blazed his way to the dream world of three figure annointment in daring fashion hoisting Tucker with utter disdain for a six over deep mid-wicket in only his third trest appearance and fourth innings, the discovery from the cricket crazy city of Moratuwa had signaled his arrival in no uncertain terms going on to remain unbeaten on 149 studded with 18 boundaries to boot in his 234-ball innings. It marked a truly sword edged entry to top flight cricket in the wake of another great that Moratuwa has produced in former national captain Duleep Mendis who left an indelible mark in the game.
It was in the 47th over bowled by Tucker that Madushka launched into action in full flight coming into his own from a cautious but businesslike start in translating his overnight score of 42 to bigger things as he hammered the second delivery by Tucker to the boundary and crossed over for a single in the next and after his skipper had palmed back the strike picking a single he launched into the final delivery with gay abandon bringing up his maiden ton waltzing down in making the delivery a full toss and dispatching the ball over the top.
The Karunaratne-Madushka first-wicket partnership realised 228 when the Lankan skipper was caught by Matthew Humphreys off Campher. The entry of Kusal Mendis further heightened the run making with the 28-year old, another discovery from the same school Moratu Vidyalaya that produced Madushka, exploding in a 83-run orgy off 96 balls bathed in 5 over the top pumelling of the Ireland attack and 7 to the ropes in an unfinished second=wicket partnership worth 129 runs.
Ireland 492 (145.3 Overs)
(Paul Sterling 103, Curtis Campher 111, Andrew Balbirnie 95, Lorcan Tucker 80, Andrew McBrine 35, Prabath Jayasuriya 5/174, Asitrha Fernando 2/78, Vishwa Fernando 2/92, Ramesh Mendis 1/108)
Sri Lanka 357/1 (77 Overs) RR: 4.63
(Nishan Madushka n.o. 149, Dimuth Karunaratne 119, Kusal Mendis n.o. 83, Curtis Campher 1/47)