De Silva leads Sri Lanka fight­back

Fiji Sun - - Sports -

Colombo: Dhanan­jaya de Silva hit a maiden cen­tury and com­bined with Di­nesh Chandi­mal to res­ur­rect Sri Lanka’s in­nings af­ter a poor start against Aus­tralia on the open­ing day of the third and fi­nal test on Satur­day. Sri Lanka, who have an unas­sail­able 2-0 lead in the three-match se­ries, won the toss and opted to bat but were re­duced to 26 for five, bring­ing De Silva and Chandi­mal to­gether at the crease.

For close to the next 74 overs in the day, Aus­tralia could not sep­a­rate the pair as they added 188 for the sixth wicket with the hosts reach­ing 214 for five at the close, with De Silva 116 not out and Chandi­mal un­beaten on 64. Left-arm pace­man Mitchell Starc, the most suc­cess­ful bowler in the se­ries, was at his dev­as­tat­ing best in the morn­ing and picked up three wick­ets, tak­ing his tally for the se­ries to 20. Cap­tain Steve Smith in­tro­duced off-spin­ner Nathan Lyon in the sixth over with the pitch at the Sin­halese Sports Club Ground al­ready pro­vid­ing some as­sis­tance to the spin­ners and was re­warded with two wick­ets. Starc, bowl­ing with pace and ac­cu­racy, sent back Sri Lanka’s fal­ter­ing open­ing bats­men, with Kaushal Silva fall­ing for a duck and Dimuth Karunaratne (seven) get­ting out to the same bowler for all five times in the se­ries.

Kusal Per­era (16) hit three bound­aries be­fore edg­ing Lyon to Smith at slip while the off-spin­ner also picked up Sri Lanka cap­tain An­gelo Mathews’ wicket, the bats­man tope­dg­ing his sweep shot to deep square leg.

Starc re­turned for an­other spell to dis­miss in-form Kusal Mendis for one, Smith com­plet­ing an­other smart catch be­hind the wick­ets. Lyon thought he had his third when De Silva was given out off a bat-pad catch but the bats­man man­aged to over­turn the de­ci­sion on re­view.

De Silva, play­ing only his third test match, got to his hun­dred with a bound­ary off Smith’s part-time leg-spin and fol­lowed it up with an emo­tional cel­e­bra­tion. He ended the day hav­ing hit 16 fours in his 240-ball knock. Aus­tralia had a few half chances but failed to con­vert them. Pace­man Su­ranga Lak­mal re­cov­ered from a ham­string in­jury to re­place Vishwa Fer­nando in the only change for the hosts from the team that beat Aus­tralia by 229 runs in Galle. Aus­tralia, whose top rank­ing in the for­mat is at stake, dropped open­ing bats­man Joe Burns and num­ber three Us­man Khawaja from a side that have strug­gled against the hosts’ spin­ners. Left-handed bats­man Shaun Marsh and all­rounder Moises Hen­riques, who last played a test match in March 2013, were drafted in. - Reuters

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