Danny Byrne: “The Sri Lankans chase down 268 to take a 1-0 lead in the Series”
I had to return to the shoe shop this morning as my bargain basement plastic sandals didn’t fit. I had incorrectly assumed local size 42 would be a universal measurement and indeed perhaps it is supposed to be. However the Chinese made size 42 sandals were too small and the shop didn’t have any bigger sizes in that particular design. I tried an Indonesian size 44 and they were far too big. I eventually found a size 45 sandal from Bangkok that was the equivalent of size 42 in UK. I was very pleased with my efforts until the shop-keeper spoke “Ah but sir, Bangkok sandals are much more expensive – that will be an extra 1000 Rupees.” The Sri Lankans always win in the end. The shop was supposed to open at 9 am but the sales assistants didn’t turn up until 9.30. The match was due to start and I had already booked the trip to the Kanneliya Rain Forest for tomorrow morning.
Santner opened the bowling from the Fort End accompanied by Ajaz from the Pavilion End and Frank hit a rare boundary off the last ball of the spinner’s second over. Somerville replaced Santner after only two overs and when the off spinner dropped short Frank cut the ball behind point for another four. Ajaz was hit for a clean six over cow corner and when Frank pushed the next delivery for a single he took his score to 90. The 150 partnership was completed from 347 balls. The New Zealand captain decided to use a review when Illingworth determined Thirimanne was not out lbw to Somerville in the 61st over. The decision was overturned by the third umpire leaving the hosts 161 – 1 and Thirimanne had to make his way back to the Pavilion having scored 64.
Kusal Mendis made his intentions quite clear when he skipped down the wicket to hit his second delivery over mid-on to the boundary. He repeated the shot two balls later and this time the ball sailed over the rope for a six. The target had been reduced to less than 100. In the next over Mendis slogged Ajaz straight into the hands of Raval at short mid-wicket ( 174 – 2 ). Karunaratne continued to play sensibly at the other end and he completed his ninth Test century, his first in the fourth innings and his third at Galle from 216 balls. Mathews hit Ajaz behind square for another boundary and 11 runs were conceded from the over and the target was reduced to only 78. Santner replaced Somerville and Frank continued to caress the ball carefully into the gaps for ones and twos.
Drinks were brought on to the field and an electrician suddenly appeared with a new box contraption to fix the TV in the Galle CC Stand an hour before the match was presumably going to end. Somerville replaced Ajaz at the Pavilion End and the crowd started signing on the grass bank led by the guy who balances a bottle on his bald head all day. Santner dropped short and Frank stepped back to smash the ball to the extra cover fence. Southee replaced Santner with the target only 63. The grass bank was probably as full as I have ever seen it as Williamson came on to bowl in a desperate last attempt by New Zealand to pick up some wickets. After three overs from the New Zealand captain there were only 50 runs required by Sri Lanka for victory. Southee had Frank caught behind for a brilliant 122 from 243 deliveries ( 218 – 3 ) and Kusal Perera came in to face an 8:1 off side field. This didn’t seem to bother the left handed batsman as he managed to find a gap between extra cover and mid-off to hit a boundary. Somerville returned to replace Williamson with the new ball available after a further three overs.
Perera was lucky not to be bowled off a bottom edge and he shrugged his shoulders and hit the next ball through extra cover to the fence in front of the Galle CC Stand. In the next over he attempted a reverse sweep and was given out by Michael Gough. Perera called for the DRS and no-one had a clue what he might have been given out for. The ball ended up being caught at short leg but the TV replay showed it not to have come off bat or glove. The lbw review showed the ball to be just missing leg stump and thus Perera was reprieved. He immediately celebrated by taking a couple of boundaries off Southee to reduce the target to 30. Perera had 18 from 13 balls and had suddenly overtaken Mathews who had been at the crease for an hour longer. Perera survived a New Zealand review for lbw when he just managed to get outside the line before the ball made impact. Boult was given the new ball from the Fort End and this would be the last throw of the dice for the Black Caps.
Boult’s over was a beauty but the batsmen managed to survive. The umpires conferred and decided not to go off for lunch with only 22 runs required for a Sri Lanka victory. Perera was caught by Southee at mid-on trying to smash Boult to the boundary ( 250 – 4 ). De Silva was the next man in and he calmly guided the ball to the boundary three times in the next four overs. With one run required for victory Southee bowled wide of the off stump to ensure the winning runs were not conceded off his bowling. Boult aimed for middle and Mathews turned the ball off his legs to score the winning runs. Sri Lanka had won by 6 wickets to put 60 points on the board in the new Test Championship League Table. Karunaratne was named Man of the Match and Chris Martin’s prodigy Lahiru Kumara had added another two wickets to his tally without scoring any runs. The next match begins in Colombo on Thursday.