Sri Lanka pick up final wicket just before rain
Rex Clementine in Galle
Sri Lanka retained the Sobers-Tissera trophy after a nail-biting finish in the opening Test against West Indies here in Galle yesterday. The victory margin of 187 runs may suggest that this was a comfortable win but in fact, the hosts were racing against time with rains threatening to come down anytime. Minutes after the final wicket fell, the heavens opened and the post match presentation was forced indoors. It is unlikely that play would have resumed after the rain interruption.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne was a relieved man. “Weather gods were kind to us I guess. Very funny it was as two minutes after we took the last wicket, it started raining. Very happy that we could finish off just before rain.”
With the win, Sri Lanka collected 12 points in the World Test Championship.
Realistically, Sri Lanka needed four wickets in 98 overs to win the game, but rain and bad light had spoiled day three and four and more wet weather was predicted on the final day. So, Sri Lanka had to knock off the tail soon.
West Indies had got off to a horrendous start in their second innings as they were reduced to 18 for six. From thereon, they put up a remarkable fight back.
Joshua da Silva and Nkrumah Bonner ensured that West Indies did not lose further wickets on day four and they batted for two more hours on the final day to deny Sri Lanka any success. Four dropped catches helped their cause but more importantly their footwork against spin was classy and the top order has much to learn from them.
Da Silva, a 23-year-old from Trinidad was technically brilliant giving West Indies much needed depth at lower down the order while Jamaican Bonner showed maturity and patience during the 100 run partnership.
Both batsmen reached half-centuries and Bonner went onto top score with 68 not out.
Da Silva fell for Embuldeniya 15 minutes to go for lunch as Dhananjaya de Silva completed the catch at slip. That was just the opening Sri Lanka wanted.
After lunch, Sri Lanka invited Rahkeem Cornwall to go over the top bringing mid-on and mid-off up. He took the bait and trying to send Praveen Jayawickrama to the Dutch built Galle Ramparts mistimed the hit and was caught by Suranga Lakmal peddling backwards.
There was not much resistance from number ten and eleven as Embuldeniya polished the tail to finish with a five wicket haul. Ramesh Mendis bowled superbly finishing with four wickets.
Karunaratne with scores of 147 and 83 in the game was named Man of the Match. “I was a bit worried leading into the Test match. I had not played a First Class game for more than six months and even in the few domestic one-day games I played, I couldn’t get going. But something told me that if I get a good start, I will go onto get a big one. It was a nervous start but I gained confidence the more I batted,” he said.
West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite requested his batsmen to put their hands up. “Tremendous fight back by the lower order. Top order batsmen need to learn from them. The first innings total is always important. We did not do well in the first innings and were under pressure from that point. It was important for us to get closer to their score and we let ourselves down there. We need to have clarity on our batting. Not just big shots but we have to defend confidently too. Hopefully, we can work on that area next week in the second Test.”
The teams will remain in Galle as the second Test too will be played here starting next week.
Thehan clinches men’s singles tennis title
106th Colombo Championships
Royal College player Thehan Wijemanne clinched the men’s open singles title of the 106th Colombo Championships as he beat Chathurya Nilaweera in the final played at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Wednesday.
Wijemanne who partners Nilaweera in the men’s open doubles was tied 1-1 in the singles final before pulling off a 10-7 win to seal his victory. The final scores read 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.
The Royalist beat Kiran Vairavanathan and Archana Lokuge in a row to book his final place to meet the champion of the Under 18 age category.
Wijemanne registered a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Lokuge in the semis after beating Vairavanathan 4-2, 3-5, 11-9 in the quarter-final.
It is the first Colombo Championships singles title for Wijemanne who will celebrate his 18th birthday later this month. He is also the reigning Clay Courts Singles champion after winning the March final against Luca Knese.
Meanwhile, Gehansa Methnadi of Musaeus College reached the Under 12 girls’ singles final after recording a convincing straight sets win in the semi-final played on Wednesday. She beat Movindi Fernando 4-1, 4-1 in the afternoon.
In an Under 12 girls’ singles quarter-final Akeesha Silva beat Venuli Jayasinghe 4-1, 4-0 to reach the semi-final.
Karunaratne climbs up in Test Player Rankings
Sri Lanka’s win in the first match of the ICC Men’s Test Championship has put the team on top of the table powered by MRF (on percentage points), and several players including skipper Dimuth Karunaratne have improved their rankings after the first Test in Galle.
Captain Karunaratne’s Player of the Match effort of 147 and 83 has lifted him four places to seventh, just one below his career-best sixth position attained in August 2019. Former captains Angelo Mathews (up two places to 23rd) and Dinesh Chandimal (up four places to 46th) have also advanced.
Left-arm spinners Lasith Embuldeniya (up four places to 37th) and Praveen Jayawickrama (up six places to 44th) and off-spinner Ramesh Mendis (up 28 places to 57th) have improved in the rankings for bowlers.
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has made it to the top five of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings for the first time in his career after a fine show in the first Test against Bangladesh which Pakistan won by eight wickets.
The 21-year-old left-arm bowler, who grabbed seven wickets including a haul of five for 32 in the second innings of the Chittagong Test, has moved up three places to fifth position after overtaking James Anderson, Kagiso Rabada and Neil Wagner.
Shaheen’s new-ball partner Hasan Ali too is at a career-best position after finishing with a similar seven-wicket match haul that included a five-for in the first innings. Hasan has advanced five places to 11th place. His previous best in Tests was 14th, reached in May this year.
Pakistan’s opening batters were not the ones to be left behind. Abid Ali may have missed out on a century in each innings but his scores of 133 and 91 helped him shoot up 27 slots to a career-best 20th position while Abdullah Shafique enters the rankings at 83rd with scores of 52 and 73.
For Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim is up four places to 19th with scores of 91 and 16 while Liton Das has moved up 26 places to a career-best 31st position after accruing 114 and 59. Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam has progressed two places to 23rd after an eight-wicket match haul that included seven scalps in the first innings.
The thrilling draw in Kanpur between India and New Zealand had quite a few performances from either side that reflect in the latest weekly update that also includes the first Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at Galle, which the host side won by 187 runs.
Debutant Shreyas Iyer’s Player of the Match effort of 105 and 65 helped him enter the rankings in 74th position while opener Shubman Gill (up six places to 66th) and Wriddhiman Saha (up nine places to 99th) also made notable progress after notching half-centuries.
Ravindra Jadeja is up two places to 19th among bowlers with five wickets in the match and is also up one place to second among all-rounders. Ravichandran Ashwin is the third-ranked all-rounder and 79th among batters.
For New Zealand, Tom Latham’s knocks of 95 and 52 place him back in the top 10 as he goes up from 14th to ninth. Fast bowler Kyle Jamieson is ninth among bowlers, his three wickets in each innings resulting in a gain of six places. Tim Southee has gained 15 rating points to reach within one point of second-placed Ashwin (840) after his eight-wicket match haul.
Mickey’s ‘sloppy cricketers’ hand Windies the edge
Rex Clementine in Galle
Sri Lanka Head Coach Mickey Arthur once told The Island that he hates ‘sloppy cricketers’. Given how Sri Lanka approached batting in their second innings here in Galle yesterday, the 53-year-old would have given them a firm dressing-down. Having conceded a first innings lead of 49 in the second Test, Sri Lanka had to bat well to set West Indies a decent target. With the wicket turning square, the batsmen already had their work cut down and to gift West Indies two wickets through run outs was not ‘sloppy cricket’ but committing hara-kiri.
There’s a lot at stake here. Sri Lanka have never lost a Test match at home to the Windies and everyone is looking forward to give Arthur a grand send off. To make things worse, Angelo Mathews is down with a hamstring injury and that leaves a huge hole in the batting line-up. Sri Lanka’s batsmen barring Dimuth Karunaratne have been susceptible against spin and unless they bat out at least two full sessions on day four, history could be in the making for West Indies.
Dimuth was the first to be dismissed. Having pushed one to backward of point, he attempted a risky single, but instead of rushing he was watching the fielder. Kyle Mayers picked up the ball one-handed and threw down the stumps with a direct hit to find the batsman well short.
The comedy of errors continued when Oshada Fernando was run out with the total on 39. Having pushed one to point, Oshada was walking down the track, half-hearted not knowing whether a run was on. There was none there and by the time he was sent back by the non-striker it was all too late and not even a dive could save him.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen spoiled the brilliant efforts of their spinners who did well to bowl out West Indies for 253. The tourists were well placed at one stage at 166 for two but then Ramesh Mendis’ career best figures of six for 70 saw Sri Lanka bounce back. West Indies at one stage slumped to 208 for eight, losing six wickets for 42 runs. But a ninth wicket stand of 38 runs between Mayers and Veerasammy Permaul ensured they ended up with a decent lead.
Kraigg Brathwaite was brilliant as he top scored with 72 runs that came off 185 deliveries with nine fours. A peach of a delivery from Lasith Embuldeniya accounted for the captain. The ball pitched outside of the leg-stump, spun viciously past the right-hander and clipped the top of off-stump.
Spinners accounted for all ten wickets to fall with Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama sharing four wickets between them well supporting Mendis.
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