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by Julian GUYER
Northampton: June 5, 2014
Kaushal Silva and Lahiru Thirimanne both scored hundreds as Sri Lanka compiled 358 for three on the opening day of their tour match against Northamptonshire. At stumps on Thursday’s first day of four at Northampton, opener Silva was 152 not out in what was Sri Lanka’s final match before next week’s first of a two-Test series against England at Lord’s.
Thirimanne, dropped first ball, made an unbeaten 120, with Sri Lanka’s fourth-wicket pair having so far added an unbroken 238 after they’d both been reprieved by teenage wicketkeeper Ben Duckett. Silva’s hundred was his second in as many first-class matches, following his 109 for Sinhalese against Nondescripts at Panagoda in April, and the 28-year-old’s 30th in all.
Come the close, he’d batted for six hours, facing 260 balls with 21 fours and two sixes. The controversial finale to Sri Lanka’s 3-2 one-day series win over England, saw the tourists’ six-wicket win in front of a raucous Edgbaston on Tuesday overshadowed by Sachithra Senanayake’s much-debated run out of non-striker Jos Buttler backing up.
But with off-spinner Senanayake long not included in the Test squad, this fixture took place in front of a typically sedate county crowd. Northamptonshire, struggling at the foot of the First Division of the County Championship table with five defeats from six matches, did give their loyal supporters something to cheer with an early wicket after Thirimanne, Sri Lanka’s captain in this match, won the toss.
Dimuth Karunaratne inside-edged Steven Crook onto his thigh pad and was caught at gully by Kyle Coetzer to leave Sri Lanka one for one, but new batsman Kumar Sangakkara was soon cutting and driving Crook for two well-struck boundaries. The veteran left-hander had looked in no trouble at all when, to medium-pacer Coetzer’s fourth ball, he hoisted a long hop to deep long leg where Chad Barrett took a well-judged catch in the swirling breeze. Sangakkara exited for 28, including five fours.
Mahela Jayawardene, in at 53 for two, soon restored order on a placid pitch by off-driving Barrett for four and clipping a legside full toss from Scotland captain Coetzer for another boundary. And when left-arm spinner Graeme White came on, Jayawardene lofted him for an off-driven four. Jayawardene looked in typically excellent touch as he made a near run-a-ball 46 until he tried to uppercut a lifting Crook ball that cramped him for room and Matt Spriegel in the gully took an excellent leaping catch above his head.
Next ball Thirimanne edged Crook but Duckett, going to his left, dropped the chance despite getting both hands to the ball. The compact Silva pulled Coetzer for four to complete a 123-ball fifty while left-hander Thirimanne square-cut spinner Spriegel to the boundary to reach the landmark in 84 balls with seven fours. Silva, 84 not out at tea, went to three figures by cover-driving left-arm seamer David Willey for his 16th boundary. And when Graeme White dropped short, Silva pulled him for six, with Thrimanne following up by sweeping the left-arm spinner high over the ropes as well.
The 19-year-old Duckett dropped his second chance of the day, a difficult one down the legside off left-arm spinner Spriegel, when Silva was on 124. The batsman responded by lofting Spriegel for six over wide long-on. Thirimanne ensured Duckett paid heavily for his earlier error by completing a 151-ball hundred. Sri Lanka rested tour captain Angelo Mathews but otherwise the tourists were fielding close to a full-strength side.
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