Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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Alright. Roll up. It's another one.
Mad. Funny. Audacious. Godawful. Funny again, but for different reasons. Maddening.
It's a Niroshan Dickwella day.
There are no restraints on this thing. The brakes are worn. The harness is unclipped. SafeSearch is off. A life lived at 100 kilometres an hour, even if, sometimes, that is while the car is plunging into a ravine. You're not taking your eyes off it, though.
He arrived at the crease on Wednesday just after Mitchell Swepson had delivered two near-perfect wicket-taking legbreak deliveries, tossing the ball above the batter's eyeline, getting it to dive, having it rip off a leg stump line, batters playing for turn but not that much turn, the ball taking the outside edge, catches taken behind. An Australian legspinner bowling this well, on a turning pitch? We've seen this before at Galle, and it hasn't ended well for the home team.
Dickwella is playing the hat-trick ball, which for regular human beings is a moment of crushing pressure. The scoreline is 97 for 5. The infield is more crowded than a commuter bus in a fuel crisis (#srilankacrisis). Here is a moment for a defensive stroke. Just see it out. Make it a dot ball. Look for runs when the opposition is less keen.
Not Dickwella. No way.
He sweeps Swepson, and thankfully for him and Sri Lanka, bottom edges the bowler straight into the ground. He has not come close to middling that one, but he has hit it, which is good enough reason for Dickwella to reverse sweep the next one, fetching two. There is more where that came from.
Not long after he arrives at the crease, he slog sweeps Nathan Lyon for four, drives him past mid-on to the boundary, then bashes him over the top of midwicket with a sweep again, so you wonder if this will be one of the good Dickwella days.
It is. Sorta. First ball of Lyon's next over, Dickwella puts a reverse between backward point and extra cover - a sublime piece of timing and placement that makes it three boundaries in succession against Australia's best bowler in these conditions. Because Dickwella has run up into the rafters of the theatre and wrestled the spotlight on to himself, within several overs, that Swepson double-strike seems a distant memory. Do mad things as madly as possible, and see what happens. A Test innings is a blank canvas and if you don't have paints, use a bazooka.
When his senior partner Angelo Mathews gets out, Dickwella has the option to slow down, tuck his cricketing shirt in, and be the adult around the tail-end batters. He does have that mode, but he has decided today is not that day. He reverse slaps Swepson to get to 49, then completes the half-century off just 42 deliveries. Soon after tea, he is on one knee scooping Pat Cummins over his shoulder for four. He is out for 58 off 59 balls to Lyon, playing an aggressive shot, obviously. But these 59 balls have been the difference between a paltry score and a half-respectable one.
It has felt like a good Dickwella day, but then, it's never that easy, is it? This is not an uncomplicated figure. There is a post-script. And even that is not all bad.
With Usman Khawaja on 36, Dickwella could have effected a stumping when Ramesh Mendis spun one past Australia's in-form Test batter. Caveat: the ball bounced like it had been shot out of an underground nerf gun, and actually hit Dickwella on the helmet grille, off the top of the glove. Caveat on that caveat: at no point during this ball was Dickwella unsighted, so the best keepers would probably have made that adjustment, and pulled off the dismissal.
Later, with Travis Head on 5, Dickwella once again is surprised by the bounce off the same bowler, and misses another chance. Lessons learned? Failures noted down? Getting better with experience? Get out. Get all the way out. We don't do that here.
Sometime in the last session the ball spins clean past Khawaja's pads and Dickwella convinces captain Dimuth Karunaratne to ask for the review, and Sri Lanka lose it in a stupendously daft way.
The very next ball, Steven Smith and Khawaja have a running miscommunication, and Dickwella tears after the ball in the direction of short cover, glove off in a flash, slides, picks it up cleanly, and sends a perfect bounce throw to the fielder running in, to effect a vital dismissal with this piece of incandescent wicketkeeping.
Pack it up. It's been mad. It's been maddening. It's been another Dickwella day.