Monday, December 17, 2012

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Dilshan 147, Mathews 75 save blushes for Lanka

  • Monday, December 17, 2012
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Australia who struggled to dismiss Sri Lanka for 336 and gain a lead of 114, were 27 for the loss of no wicket an overall lead of 141 at the end of the third day of the First Test at the Bellerive Oval, here today. At the wickets were Ed Cowans on 16 and David Warner on 8 in 14 overs.
    It was the determined 5th wicket stand between Tillekeratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews that saved the blushes for Sri Lanka. When they resumed on 87 or 4, they still required 164 to make Australia bat again.
    It was a tall ask. But being the experienced batsmen that they are, they summoned all their experience to thwart the Aussie bowlers, who were at them to slowly, but surely take Sri Lanka to safe land from having to follow on.
    Dilshan scored his runs manly off drives. His pet stroke was the off drive which he executed to perfection with good footwork and sweet timing. He also pushed the singles and exhibited good running between the wickets with Matthews.
    After tea Dilshan was yorked by Starc for 147 with 21 fours, Jayewardene was LBW to Siddle for 40 with 6 fours, Rangana Herath also LBW to Siddle for no score, Nuwan Kulesekera made merry hitting 2 sixes and a four in his 23 before lofting Lyon to substitute fielder at mid wicket and Chanaka Welegedera was caught by Hussey in the gully off Siddle without scoring.
    Peter Siddle who was always a trier finished with figures of 5 for 54, while Lyon had 2 for 76. Bright and beautiful Unlike Saturday where it was overcast with intermittent showers and very cold and playing time was lost, Sunday dawned bright and beautiful with blue skies with the sun shining and no interruptions likely. To recap – Play started 30 minutes early to catch up with the time lost on day two. On day two when play ended, Sri Lanka were tottering on 87 for 4, still needing 164 to avoid the follow on. Of the four Lankan batsmen out, the most unforgiving was that of Thilan Samaraweera in the last over.
    When keeping his wicket intact was the need, he attempted to cut a delivery from off spinner Nathan Lyon and was taken by wicket keeper Matthew Wade for 7 to the jubilation of the Australians.

    Great responsibility

    Veteran Tillekeratne Dilshan batted with great responsibility. He batted with ease and was not troubled by any of the Australian bowlers. He defended the good balls and cut loose when the hittable balls came along. His 50 was well constructed. When Dilshan and Angelo Mathews began the Lanka innings, it was obvious that their strategy was to go after the bowling and not let them settle down and dominate. Both went after the pacemen and were particularly severe on spinner Nathan Lyon lofting him for fours every time he pitched up. That was good thinking by the batsmen and it upset Captain Clarke’s plans and looked bereft of ideas.

    Aggressive batting

    Dilshan and Matthews hoisted their 50-run stand and continued their aggressive approach taking the fight to the bowlers, never letting them settle into a length and in the first 75 minutes of play had scored almost a run a ball 70.
    The batsmen were going well and Dilshan reached a well earned century when he dabbed a ball from Siddle past point to the boundary to go to 103, his 15th three figure score in Tests and his first in Australia. While the ball was on its way to the boundary, Dilshan was celebrating, raising his bat to the crowd and doing the kangaroo hop.
    The century came with 16 fours, off 148 balls in 240 minutes.

    100-run partnership

    It also signaled the 100-run stand for the 5th wicket. Immediately the rains came down and when the umpires took the players off, the score was 187 for 4 with Dilshan on 103 and Mathews on 45. They had put on 100 in 120 minutes. Early lunch was taken.
    After lunch Dilshan and Mathews continued the good work in their attempt to save face for Sri Lanka by going past the humiliating follow on mark of 251 which was the need of the hour.
    Dilshan was quite at easy negotiating everything that the Australian bowlers threw at him. They tried to lure him with short pitched deliveries and teased him with spin. But he never wavered in concentration.

    Mathews held back

    Captain in waiting Mathews, held back his natural attacking game and realising the plight that his team was in gave Dilshan good support and together they hoisted the 50 then the 100 and 150 run stand for the 5th wicket, but when the stand was worth 161 Mathews was out. With the Aussies in a wicket drought, Clarke took the new ball immediately it was due and success was not long in coming. Siddle spearheading the bowling attack, got a delivery to cut back sharply to hit Mathews on his back foot. Umpire Tony Hill raised the dreaded finger.
    Mathews referred, but was not successful. His stand of 161 with Dilshan was the best for the 5th wicket in Tests against Australia and came in 341 balls. He fell at 248 with Sri Lanka needing three more runs to avert the humiliation of following on.

    Best 5th wicket stand

    His 161-run stand with Mathews was the best for the 5th wicket against Australia and came in 341 balls. It was a partnership that Sri Lanka badly needed considering that the team was stuttering at the end of the second day at 87 for 4. Wicket keeper batsman Prasanna Jayewardene who has a century to his credit against England at Swalec Stadium in Cardiff where Sri Lanka collapsed in a heap in the second innings to gift England a victory in a Test marred by rain, joined Dilshan and enjoyed a cuppa with Dilshan on 132 and Jayewardene no score.
    The Australian attack was depleted with Ben Hilfenhaus leaving the field early without completing his over, complaining of a back strain. Bellevrive Oval, Hobart, Sunday.

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