Patience was what Sri Lanka lacked during their heavy 211 run defeat in Galle and patience was again going to cost them the second Test but seasoned campaigner Roshen Silva showcased how to bat under pressure when chips are down with a crafty half-century that enabled the hosts to a vital 46 run lead at stumps on day two here at the Pallekele International Stadium.
When Angelo Mathews was dismissed with the total on 165 for six and Sri Lanka still 120 runs behind, England sensed a kill, but Roshen with the lower order stitched some crucial partnerships to help Sri Lanka post 336 in the first innings.
Each of the lower order batsmen contributed. Niroshan Dickwella (25) was involved in a 46 run stand with Roshen for the seventh wicket and then followed a 41 run partnership for the eighth wicket between Roshen and Dilruwan Perera (15). But the stand that hurt England most was the ninth wicket partnership.
Akila Dananjaya’s bowling this series has been below par and he has already come under a cloud with his action reported by the umpires. His most crucial contribution in the series so far came with the bat as he added 56 runs for the ninth wicket.
England tried all within their means including taking the new second new ball, but for more than an hour they failed to make the breakthrough. In the meanwhile, Sri Lanka were chipping away.
The stand that took Sri Lanka’s total past 300 was an eventful one. Umpire Marias Erasmus handed England five penalty runs after Roshen didn’t complete the first run having nudged one to third man region. Before completing the first run, Roshen assumed that the ball had crossed the boundary. But soon when he realized that Moeen Ali’s diving effort had stopped the ball before it reached the boundary, he went for the second run without completing the first run.
Instead of calling one short, Erasmus awarded five penalty runs at a moment Sri Lanka were fighting tooth and nail to get ahead of England. As a result, England’s first innings total was changed from 285 to 290.
Sri Lanka have been like crybabies in recent times always complaining and protesting. It remains to be seen whether they will hold up play tomorrow morning in protest like they did in the West Indies and get into deep trouble with heavy suspensions for captain, coach and manager.
Jokes apart, Sri Lanka had an opportunity to bat England out of the game. Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva added 96 runs for the third wicket, Sri Lanka’s best stand in the series so far. Karunaratne was batting so well with some elegant drives and had a century for the taking.
One reason why Sri Lanka are trailing this series is because they have played dumb cricket. Another stupid moment gave England a vital breakthrough at a time when they were desperate for a wicket as Dhananjaya de Silva pushed one to covers and took on Ben Stokes. He had little clue that he had taken on England’s best fielder and Stokes threw down the stumps at the striker’s end and Dimuth was gone for 63.
And if there were an individual award for dumb player of the series, Dhananjaya would be the outright choice of the adjudicators. He fell for a sweep shot with ten minutes to go for lunch in Galle in the first innings and in the second essay did precious little to ensure that he didn’t face the extra over before lunch. Stokes dismissed him in the penultimate ball before the break and the team management was at a loss for words.
His batting yesterday, however, was in a different league as the 27-year-old executed some elegant strokes. While most batsmen were content on survival on a wicket that turned sharply, Dhananjaya played some glorious strokes to complete his fourth Test fifty.
Nothing to take away from Stokes though, who pulled off a sensational one handed catch at first slip to dismiss Kusal Mendis (1). It was 136 for four then and Sri Lanka did extremely well to post 336.