Can Dickwella get Sri Lanka over the line? | Sunday Observer

Can Dickwella get Sri Lanka over the line?

Sri Lanka require 75 runs, England three wickets:

If Sri Lanka are to pull of an unlikely victory in the second Test against England at the Pallekele International Stadium today and be in contention in the three-match series, it would require their wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella to repeat the knock he played against Zimbabwe at the R Premadasa Stadium in July last year.

Dickwella produced a match-winning innings of 81 and it was his partnership of 121 runs with Asela Gunaratne (80 n.o.) that saw Sri Lanka chase down a target of 388 and win by four wickets.

At the end of an absorbing fourth day where fortunes fluctuated from one side to the other Sri Lanka chasing a target of 301 were 226-7, and required another 75 runs on the fifth and final day with three wickets in hand.

Rain lopped off almost the entire final session allowing only 3.2 overs to be bowled but enough to shift the balance of power in the match to England.

Those 20 balls of the final session gave England two crucial wickets as they pressed for a series-clinching win.

Sri Lanka sitting pretty at 219-5 at tea suddenly found themselves at 226-7. Angelo Mathews who had batted immaculately for 88 off 137 balls (6 fours) was out to the third ball and as soon as Dilruwan Perera (2) was dismissed the rains came down.

Both batsmen were out to leg before decisions, leaving Dickwella unbeaten on 27 with the task of scoring the required runs with the tail. In the first innings Sri Lanka’s last four wickets added 171 runs and if they are to pull this game in off their favour Akila Dananjaya, Malinda Pushpakumara and skipper Suranga Lakmal have important roles to play today.

Sri Lanka’s push for a series-levelling win began on a disastrous note with the first three wickets falling for just 26 runs inside eight overs. Sri Lanka were batting on a pitch on which England had made 346 in their second innings and where the Sri Lankan spinners had hardly troubled the batters. But when left-arm spinner Jack Leach bowled it was a completely different scenario altogether. It’s not that he produced any unplayable balls but the wickets that fell were more to the batsmen’s ineptitude.

Kaushal Silva was flummoxed and drawn forward out of his crease to offer Ben Foakes and easy stumping but the dismissals of Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Mendis were due to their own negligence. De Silva pushed at a delivery which he should have swept and Mendis was trapped lbw on the sweep shot where an England review found the ball hitting leg stump.

Mendis for all the rave comments he has received about his batting talent and ability has failed to fulfill his position in the team getting out to rash shots that is unbecoming of his status as a top order batsman and he certainly needs a kick up his backside.

At 26-3 Sri Lanka were reeling and England were cock-a-hoop with joy. The innings was reconstructed by Dimuth Karunaratne and Mathews who figured in a 77-run partnership. Karunaratne completed his second half century of the match and was looking in good touch when from out of the blue Keaton Jennings fielding at short leg pounced on a catch that was completed by wicket-keeper Ben Foakes.

Roshen Silva the first innings top scorer with 85 stuck it out for 94 minutes for 37 helping Mathews add a further 73 for the fifth wicket. With Dickwella joining Mathews in a stand of 45 Sri Lanka were well entrenched at tea and looking confident of chasing down their target. However after the break fortunes changed so dramatically that England now find themselves as favourites to win the Test, although a Sri Lankan win cannot be ruled out as the new ball is not due until a further 15 overs.

England second innings ended for 346 off the first delivery of the second new ball taken after 80.3 overs when Dilruwan Perera bowled James Anderson off the inside edge for 12, leaving Ben Foakes unbeaten on 65 scored off 119 balls (4 fours, 2 sixes).

England added 22 runs to their overnight score of 324 off 28 balls.Perera finished with three wickets taking his series tally to 14 wickets, while Akila Dananjaya ended up taking a career best 6 for 115.

England were without Sam Curran who was off the field suffering from a slight side strain and Jonny Bairstow substituted for him.