Draw beckons!

More bad weather spoils fun as de Silva defies dominant West Indies A

By Garfield Myers
Editor-at-Large, South Central Bureau

Saturday, October 14, 2017



Florence Hall , Trelawny — Captain Dhananjaya de Silva's classy, stroke-filled century (104) kept Sri Lanka A afloat as West Indies A turned in a compelling bowling performance on another rain-hit day of the first 'Test' at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium here.

Scores ahead of today's final day of the four-day contest: West Indies A 364-8 declared; Sri Lanka A 201-7. Fifty-three overs were bowled on the third day as the entire post-tea session was lost to a combination of lightning, rain and bad light.

With only 44 overs possible on the second day, the game seems destined for a draw although Sri Lanka A, with three wickets in hand, still need another 14 runs to avoid the possibility of being asked to follow on.

Shehan Jayasuriya and Malinda Pushpukamara, both on 11, will resume for the visitors on today's final day.

The 26-year-old de Silva, who walked to the crease at the fall of Sandun Weerakkundy's wicket in the second over at 1-1, smashed three sixes and 10 fours off 143 balls in a cultured, yet powerful display.

The captain's 11th first class century was all the more critical since the West Indies A bowlers, pacers and spinners alike, gathered wickets at regular intervals to keep the visitors under pressure.

Fast bowlers Keon Joseph (2-28) and leftarmer Sheldon Cottrell (2-41) made early inroads before wrist spinner Damion Jacobs (2-31) and off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall (1-68) found success with the older ball.

The right-handed de Silva, who has played 10 Tests for Sri Lanka – the last in August against India – with an average of 38, showed good control against all bowlers. He was particularly severe on the big off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall – hitting the latter's first two deliveries for massive sixes over midwicket.

He appeared bothered immediately after Lunch against the pace of Reynard Leveridge and swing of Cottrell – the latter using the breeze well in his post lunch spell. The second ball after Lunch from Leveridge found the edge of the right-hander's miscued hook, for the ball to brush the fingers of a leaping Cornwall at first slip.

But it was Jacobs who troubled de Silva the most, as he and the others appeared at times to misread the Jamaican leg spinner's variations. In the end, de Silva's attempt to launch Jacobs over the top, shortly after reaching his century proved his undoing – his skied miscue presenting a simple catch for short extra cover.

The score was then 180-6 with the cream of the Sri Lanka A batting gone.

Earlier, with West Indies A declaring at their overnight score, the game turned sour for the visitors in the second over. Wicketkeeper Sandun Weerakkody who opened the innings, gifted his wicket first ball, as his attempted upper cut off a fast rising delivery from Joseph lobbed to Windies A skipper Shamarh Brooks at backward point.

The newly arrived de Silva countered the West Indies pacers with crisp front foot drives, hooks and pulls, but wickets fell steadily at the other end as the young Sri Lankans appeared to struggle with pace and bounce. The left-handed Ron Chandraguptha (11) waving at Cottrell's away swinger, edged to keeper Jahmar Hamilton at 33-2.

Cottrell could have picked up another immediately, but Cornwall spilled a low catch at first slip as Charith Asalanka (10) flirted outside off. Asalanka would eventually fall to the aggressive Joseph back for a second spell – the left-handed batsman steering a catch to Sunil Ambris at gully.

Cottrell struck again after Lunch as Dasun Chanaka (20) drove loosely to present a simple return catch at 108-4.

Wanindu Hasaranga (24) shared a stand of 63 for the fifth wicket – with the batsmen targeting Cornwall in particular before the bowler earned revenge. His big-spinning, bouncing off break found the inside edge of Hasaranga's bat for a lobbed catch to leg slip at 170-5.

Jacobs then grabbed the big wicket of de Silva and followed up next ball with another – trapping Chamika Karunaratne (0) LBW at 180-7.

It was then left to the weather — lightning first, then rain and bad light- to have the last say.

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