Gutsy Roshen Silva gives Sri Lanka edge
Half centuries from Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva and Roshen Silva helped Sri Lanka secure a vital first innings lead on day two of their second test against England.
There were rumors that Sri Lanka wanted a more favorable pitch for spin in the 2nd Test, but the Pallekele surface didn’t look too bad for batting. Overnight batsman Malinda Pushpakumara - who walked in as night watchman last evening - was the first man to fall in the morning session as an ugly heave from him off Moeen Ali ended his stay.The pitch hardly seemed to have any demons in it as the duo of Karunaratne and Dhananjaya were at ease against the English spinners who troubled the Sri Lankan batsmen in Galle, sharing 16 wickets among them. Karunaratne went on to register his 18th Test half century with Sri Lanka going pass the 100 run mark while De Silva also started to look good as he punished the lose deliveries from the English spinners while also using his feet to good affect to tackle them. England had almost run out of all options when Ben Stokes produced some magic on the field. De Silva used soft hands to drop the ball to cover and set-off for a single when Stokes hurried from gully to pick up the ball and throw it in with one motion to catch Karunaratne short at the striker’s end. It was the spark England needed on the stroke of lunch as it led to the dismissal of Kusal Mendis who was once again caught one handed at first slip by the man of the moment, Stokes. It was also the third time Jack Leach dismissed Mendis in as many innings. Dhananjaya de Silva fell soon after reaching his half century in the post lunch session before Angelo Mathews (20) also followed to leave Sri Lanka in a spot of bother at 165/6.
Roshen Silva who was dropped for the first Test took control from here on as he was involved with a few fruitful partnerships in the lower order. He put on 46 for the 7th wicket with Niroshan Dickwella who used the sweep and reverse to good affect before it led to his downfall with him on 26. Dilruwan Perera chipped in with 15 in another useful stand of 41 for the 8th wicket before Silva found a reliable partner in Akila Dananjaya as the duo helped Sri Lanka go pass England’s first innings total of 285 (which later increased to 290 after the awarding of five penalty runs against Sri Lanka).Akila threw his bat around during an entertaining 31 off 39 balls, before he was pinned in front by Moeen Ali to end a valuable 56 run stand for the 9th wicket. Silva meanwhile played with controlled aggression as he brought up his 4th Test half century as Sri Lanka went pass the magical 300 run mark on a tricky surface. Another useful stand (28) for the last wicket was building when Silva looked to clear mid-on; only to be caught by Moeen Ali off Adil Rashid as Sri Lanka’s innings came to a close at 336 all out, 46 vital runs ahead of England. Skipper Suranga Lakmal who gave him good support remained unbeaten on 15* while Silva’s marathon knock of 85 off 174 balls included just 4 fours and a six. England survived a tricky last over before stumps were drawn as their nightwatchman Jack Leach managed to keep out a testing over from Dilruwan Perera. The game is set up beautifully with three days to go in Pallekele and Sri Lanka having to bat last.