Home > Features > Moments in history >

When Aravinda de Silva scored two unbeaten hundreds — the first to achieve the feat in a Test match

When Aravinda de Silva scored two unbeaten hundreds — the first to achieve the feat in a Test match

Sri Lanka’s Aravinda de Silva became the first man to score two unbeaten hundreds in a Test — a record he alone holds till date © Getty Images

On April 29, 1997, Sri Lanka’s Aravinda de Silva became the first man to score two unbeaten hundreds in a Test — a record he alone holds till date. The innings didn’t result in victory for his side, but it emphasised the incredible form he was in the middle of. Karthik Parimal summarises the Test that homes de Silva’s heroics.

From the beginning of 1996 to mid-1997, Aravinda de Silva instilled tremendous fear in almost every opposition with his wizardly willow. In Tests, he accumulated 674 runs from nine games at an n average of 48.14, and 1936 at 50.94 in One-Day Internationals (ODI). Such was his brilliance that he became the mainstay in a team that was already crammed with stalwarts. He appeared immune to spinners and seamers of all genres, and his prodigious handling of swing provided further proof of his increasing adeptness. In the summer of 1997, on a hot day at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo, de Silva mesmerised the cricketing world yet again.

Two tons and unconquered

Pakistan carried a depleted bowling unit for this series, presenting opportunities to fringe bowlers Mohammed Zahid and Shahid Nazir in place of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. On the other hand, Sri Lanka remained uncompromising, fielding a first-rate line-up, although Muttiah Muralitharan was left out for the second Test. The first game ended in a turgid draw, despite Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed taking 15 of Sri Lanka’s 18 wickets between them. For the visitors to pinch a victory in the next, it was imperative for the duo to come good yet again.

Well aware of Pakistan’s frailty in the bowling department, Arjuna Ranatunga won the toss and chose to bat first. Sanath Jayasuriya, characteristically, provided a reasonable start, scoring 72 of the team’s 95 runs in just over two hours. Then, a mini-collapse ensued, leaving de Silva to arrest the slide. He altered the tempo of his approach incredibly, consolidating and attacking according to the situation. None of the other batsmen could manage to drop anchor at one end — on an average, a wicket fell for every 20 runs during the first innings — yet de Silva went about his task sans any commotion.

For over six-and-a-half hours, he faced 208 balls, rammed 19 boundaries and finished with an unbeaten 138. This was his 10th century in Tests and, albeit it was essayed against an attack that was without the services of Wasim and Waqar, it gave a fine account of his grit. Sri Lanka could muster 331, a total, although not threatening, formidable enough to pester the Pakistanis. Sajeewa de Silva responded with a five-wicket haul that halted the visitors’ progress at 292. As if conceding a lead of 39 wasn’t worrisome enough, the Pakistanis then lost Zahid and Nazir, their opening bowlers, to injuries.

This led to Saleem Malik and Ijaz Ahmed, a strange bowling combination, sharing the new-ball at the commencement of Sri Lanka’s second innings. The move failed to pay rich dividends, understandably, as openers Jayasuriya and Russell Arnold compiled a 157-run partnership, with Jayasuriya scripting a slow-paced 113.

Once they fell, de Silva and Ranatunga took over the mantle of bludgeoning the hapless attack. The former scored at a much quicker pace this time, aware of an imminent declaration; time was needed to bowl Pakistan out in the fourth innings. Dropped by Saleem Elahi on 80, he amassed another hundred, collecting 11 fours and a six in the process. Nevertheless, Ranatunga, out for 66 and in the dressing room, delayed the declaration for more than an hour in order to let his celebrated teammate reach the coveted milestone. He drew heavy flak for his decision. In Murali’s absence, taking 10 wickets could prove to be arduous.

“Ranatunga’s critics later argued that he should have declared at tea, denying De Silva his landmark in order to gain time to bowl Pakistan out. As it was, after Vaas had removed the openers, the touring batsmen combined sense and defiance for the rest of the match,”Wisden noted.

Sri Lanka’s second innings concluded at 386 for four, with de Silva finishing on an unbeaten 103. This made him the first man to score two unbeaten hundreds in a Test — a record he alone holds till date. 
Powered by a breezy 155 off Saleem Malik’s blade, Pakistan comfortably saw out the final day, reaching 285 for five by stumps. No team could draw first blood in the series and, apart from de Silva’s heroics, there were hardly any moments that stole the limelight. For de Silva, though, it appeared to be a never-ending purple patch, as the two centuries here were second and third in the list of six consecutive hundreds he notched at home.

Brief Scores:

Sri Lanka 331 (Aravinda de Silva 138*, Sanath Jayasuriya 72; Saqlain Mushtaq 4 for 115) and 386 for 4 declared (Sanath Jayasuriya 113, Aravinda de Silva 103*. Arjuna Ranatunga 66; Mushtaq Ahmed 2 for 113) drew with Pakistan 292 (Moin Khan 98; Sajeewa de Silva 5 for 85, Chaminda Vaas 4 for 60) and 285 for 5 (Saleem Malik 155; Chaminda Vaas 2 for 40)

Player-of-the-match: Aravinda de Silva

Player-of-the-series: Aravinda de Silva

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal )

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014 (16:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 12, 2014  at Sharjah

New Zealand won by 4 wkts

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Josh Hazlewood looks back at his 5-wicket haul

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2: India’s familiar collapse, Umesh Yadav’s heroics and other highlights

South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 2 at Centurion: South Africa declare at 552 for 5

Australia 221/4 at stumps against India on Day 2 of 2nd Test at Brisbane

Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane guide India to 311/4 against Australia on Day 1 of 1st Test at Brisbane

Australia India Interviews Ishant Sharma Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin South Africa

Live Streaming: India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3

Live Scorecard: India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3

Live Cricket Score: India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3

South Africa eager to get back into Test series grove following long ODI spell

Replacing Alastair Cook as ODI skipper could boost England’s chances at World Cup, says Ian Botham

World Cup 1987: Viv Richards decimates Sri Lanka at Karachi

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane: Steven Smith holds key for Australia

Josh Hazlewood’s relentless accuracy and subtle movement against India in 2nd Test at Brisbane augurs well for Australia

South Africa vs West Indies 2014, 1st Test at Centurion: Hashim Amla’s double-century and other statistics

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2: India’s familiar collapse, Umesh Yadav’s heroics and other highlights

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here