Dhananjaya De Silva stroked a defiant unbeaten century 119 in a timely response to the selectors from being kept under wraps for a considerable time from test cricket as opportunely it was Sri Lanka’s new guard in the sixth wicket pair of the two Silva’s with Roshane striking an unbeaten 74 in an honourable draw of the third test against India at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday. Sri Lanka was on 299 for 5 wickets, 111 short of reaching the 410-run victory target with Dhananjaya De Silva retiring from a thigh cramp with the total on 205 for 5 in the 76th over when play was called off half an hour early.
That the match boiled down to an ultimate testing of the two Silva’s, both aged 29, with Dhananjaya having carried the brunt of it from the beginning of the innings at the fall of the first wicket for 14 in many ways proved to answer a long sought quest by the Sri Lankan cricketing establishment; the quest of seeing the culmination of Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) talent drive of finding the right balance to the batting order in the rebuilding curve. In that vein, both Dhananjaya, who struck 15 boundaries and a six in a 219-ball innings, and Roshane who struck 11 boundaries in a 154-ball stay, did certainly mount the new guard. Importantly, the duo rose to the occasion of crisis adding 58 when Dhananjaya was forced to retire hindered by the leg cramp. The pair had come together after skipper Dinesh Chandimal had fallen for 36 bowled by Aswin with the total on 147. The defining factor about Dhananjaya’s third test century in 12 matches and 24th innings was the perfect technique and reach the right hander boldly used to good effect in blunting a hitherto deadly Indian bowling attack. His finding the gaps to reach the boundary with consummate ease was truly remarkable stuff.
Meanwhile, Roshane Silva remarkably displayed the bravado and early maturity of shrugging off a debut duck in holding one end up and must consider himself unfortunate to have missed on a dream debut century. His unbroken 94-run sixth wicket alliance with Niroshan Dickwella who also atoned for a first innings duck to remain unbeaten on 44 off 72 deliveries spanning 6 boundaries was stock raising stuff for the future.
Off spinner R.A. Jadeja finished with 3 for 81 on a day the Indian attack had been withered by Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal was honoured by a special award for his sterling century and 310 run series aggregate while Indian skipper was adjudged Man of the Match and Man of the Series.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-