Remarkable rookies draw Delhi Test


Dhananjaya De Silva (L) and Roshen Silva run between the wickets during the fifth day of third Test cricket match between India and Sri Lanka at the Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium in New Delhi on December 6, 2017.

Rex Clementine
reporting from Delhi

Given Sri Lanka’s famous collapses in recent times, very few gave them a chance to take the third Test beyond lunch leave alone save it. Amitabh Chaudhry, the Secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India was at the press box on the penultimate day of the game and was convinced that the tourists were going to lose this one. A remarkable effort by three young players saved the day for them.

If Sri Lanka were to hold on for a draw, you would have expected Dimuth Karunaratne (13), Angelo Mathews (01) or Dinesh Chandimal(36) to hold one end up like they have done often, but the experienced trio’s efforts weren’t good enough and instead it was some of the rookies who took on the challenge.

Dhananjaya de Silva (119), Roshen Silva (74) and Niroshan Dickwella (44) put up a fine rearguard action to earn Sri Lanka a famous draw.

Sri Lanka had been set an improbable target of 410 runs to win, but realistically, they had to survive three sessions and an hour to earn a famous draw. After they resumed on 31 for three on the final day, there was trouble when Mathews was dismissed in the fifth over of the morning. The umpires failed to detect that Ravindra Jadeja had overstepped.

Chandimal and Dhananjaya ensured that it was the only wicket Sri Lanka lost in the session with some dogged batting though Chandimal was bowled by Jadeja off a no-ball. This time the television umpire detected the no ball.

The Sri Lankan captain went onto post 1000 runs in the calendar year during his knock, the first time he has achieved the milestone.

Chandimal’s two hour effort ended when he attempted to whip Ravichandan Ashwin on the on-side and was bowled.

With three hours left in the game, India looked ready for the kill, but two young batsmen, who have faced some harsh treatments in recent times, did a terrific job.

Dhananjaya de Silva should have been on the flight to UAE for the Pakistan series, but instead he was banished to West Indies with the ‘A’ team. He had a remarkable series guiding Sri Lanka to a series win in the Caribbean. In India, with Kusal Mendis dropped, he should have been the automatic choice for number three, but instead Lahiru Thirimanne was persevered with.

Dhanajaya was only brought in for the final game and he proved his worth. The 26-year-old batted with authority and was a treat to watch with his wristy stroke play. Roshen Silva has played over 100 First Class matches in which he has scored more than 6000 runs and made all his experience count playing to the need of the hour having put his first innings duck behind him.

Dhananjaya had to retire due to tightness in the glute muscle. Niroshan Dickwella walked in and there were a few concerns, but he did a decent job to remain unbeaten on 44. This time though, he didn’t get under the skin of Virat Kohli. When the Indian captain decided to shake hands, Roshen had reached 74 not out in a three hour knock. Him and Dhananjaya de Silva are here to stay.

There was a sigh of relief with the fight back shown by Sri Lankans after a poor effort in Nagpur where they suffered their heaviest Test defeat.

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