June 13, 2001

Pakistan A take honours on first day

Sri Lanka A were dismissed for 220 in the final over by Pakistan A who took the honours on the opening day of the first four-day unofficial Test played at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Wednesday.

It was the lack of application on the part of the Sri Lanka A batsmen that led to their own downfall, as much as Pakistan A bowled well. The bowlers stuck to a steady line and length, and played upon the impatience of the batsmen.

Following a slow beginning in the first session when Sri Lanka made only 55 off 26 overs after being asked to bat first, they lost three wickets for seven runs on resumption and by mid-afternoon had slumped to 98 for five.

It was left to the bottom order to ensure they reached a respectable total. They contributed 122 for the last five wickets of which Chamara Silva made a top score of 52, and Akalanka Ganegama and Sajeeva Weerakoon 26 apiece.

As much as it was a big disappointment for those given the opportunity to prove themselves at international level, it was sheer frustration for Kumar Sangakkara who made just four before he shouldered arms to an inswinger from Yasir Arafat and saw his off bail disturbed.

The left-hander was included in the side in order to give him an opportunity to regain his confidence and get some valuable match practice before the Indians arrive next month. But following a good beginning to his international career, Sangakkara is struggling to come to terms with the reality that his weaknesses have been studied closely by his opponents.

Although Silva made a fifty in 140 minutes with six fours, it was more of a chancy sort of innings rather than one that was played with any confidence. He was lucky on several occasions not to drag the ball on to his stumps when he inside-edged deliveries that went for runs.

He plays many of his shots so much like the great Aravinda de Silva, but he must learn to convert fifties into big hundreds if he is to make a leap from first-class to Test cricket.

Dhammika Sudarshana, making his first appearance in international cricket, was responsible for the tedious morning's play, scoring just 11 runs in the two-hour session in which he faced 77 balls. His opening partner Ian Daniel was more enterprising during his short stay, hitting three fours before putting up a simple catch to gully off a delivery from Shabbir Ahmed which rose rather sharply to surprise the batsman.

Michael van Dort, Upekha Fernando and skipper Tilan Samaraweera all played themselves in but lacked the patience to play a long innings.

The crafty Yasir Arafat troubled all the batsmen with his pace and movement off the seam, and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who is also known as Nani-Danny, supported him well, sharing six wickets between them. They were both members of the Pakistan under-19 World Cup side that toured Sri Lanka last year.

Batsman Jeevantha Kulatunga was ruled out of the match with a severe bout of influenza which had resulted him being hospitalised. In the event, Upekha Fernando got his chance to play. Sri Lanka A also left out Dinusha Fernando, Gayan Wijekoon and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara who was 12th man.