Will the Test form earn Roshen Silva an ODI call-up?

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@AFP PHOTO / MUNIR UZ ZAMAN

After a long wait Roshen Silva received the much-deserved Test cap in Delhi last year. From the word go he has been nothing less than phenomenal! As one of the most consistent batsman in the current Lankan outfit, Roshen Silva will be hoping to rise through the ranks and break into the limited overs team as well.

Free Hit Contributor – Adeeb Saleemdeen

Roshen Silva entered first class cricket, having built some hype through his magnificent school career. He started off his cricket career at Basilica College and later on got a scholarship to enter St. Joseph’s College Colombo. Roshen was privileged to be a part of the Josephian 1st XI outfit for 4 years that featured the likes of Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne. Roshen has managed to reach the half century mark in every big match he featured in and he was also prominent in the Joe-Pete 50 over encounter in 2007 as he scored a supreme fifty as the Joes triumphed over the Petes.

Disappointingly, Roshen wasn’t fortunate enough to earn a slot in the national side along with those players he shared the locker room with at St Joseph’s. With the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane and Thilan Samaraweera occupying the middle order, Roshen found himself in a desperate situation to break into the side. The hopes of an international appearance deteriorated as Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne were showing promising signs of filling up the positions of the most formidable duo Sangakkara and Mahela.

The things didn’t transpire as anticipated, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne failed to impress, especially in Test cricket. But the selectors overlooked Roshen for many years, choosing instead to keep their faith in many young talents. After a long wait, Roshen finally earned the deserving national call up in the home series against the Aussies. Disappointingly, once again, he couldn’t find a place in the playing XI. Roshen was ignored by the selectors for the tours that followed after Sri Lanka decimated the Aussies at home. Sri Lanka failed to obtain much success in the year 2017 as a Test team; the only highlight of the year was the victory against Pakistan. The team’s batting proved to be the main factor behind the losses and the selectors opted for a few fresh faces. As a result, Roshen Silva was considered for the Indian tour in the latter part of 2017. Despite being dismissed for a duck in his 1st international innings, he played a vital knock in the 2nd innings of the Delhi Test to help Sri Lanka save the game.

A conquering journey at first-class level

After being part of the Sri Lanka Under-19s, Roshen got a chance to represent Singhalese Sports Club. After a short stint at SSC Roshen moved on to Colts Cricket Club. Ever since his debut, he has been in fabulous form as he has accumulated over 7000 runs at an average of 49.26. His FC career includes 20 centuries and 32 fifties. Most importantly, he has been able to finish off every season amongst the top 5 of the highest run getters list. After playing first class cricket with the Colts for almost 7 years Roshen decided to join Ragama CC in 2016. That particular year was probably one of the best years for this stylish right hander as he scored 678 runs at an average of over 55 in the Premier League Tournament.

Roshen made his List A debut in 2006 against Kurunagala Youth Cricket Club. He managed to pile up the runs during the tour of England a couple of years back as he scored 314 runs at a healthy average of 62.80 in that particular series. Silva guided Sri Lanka A to a series victory against the Windies as he accumulated 168 runs at an average of 84. Unfortunately, he couldn’t acquire a favorable outcome in the 50 over series against the Windies.

A career that started off with glimpses of brilliance

Roshen was unfortunate to start his Test career with an unwanted record to his name as he walked back to the pavilion scoreless on his Test debut against India. Despite the abortive first innings, Roshen rectified the gaffe and went past the half century in the second innings. Roshen walked in to bat in a pressure situation as the islanders were required to bat out two sessions to save the game. Roshen got fine support from the other end as Sri Lanka managed to draw the game which seemed to be out of reach at the end of day 4.

Roshen continued his superior form during the tour of Bangladesh as he notched up his maiden Test century in Chittagong. Unfortunately, he couldn’t convert it to a winning effort as the track wasn’t offering much resistance to the bowlers. Despite the run fest in the first Test, the Sher-e-Bangla pitch provided plenty of support for the bowlers from the very first day in the second Test. The valuable knocks by Roshen and Kusal Mendis powered the islanders to go past the 200 run mark. After dismissing Bangladesh cheaply, Roshen led the second innings upfront by scoring an unbeaten 70. Akila Dhananjaya and Rangana Herath laid the finishing touches with the ball as the islanders ended victorious by 215 runs. Roshen Silva concluded the series on a high by adding two more awards to his trophy cabinet.

At the end of this exhilarating outing, Roshen became the first Sri Lankan to register four fifty-plus scores in his first five Test innings and also  became the player who holds the second highest aggregate amongst the Sri Lankans in his first five innings. Roshen Silva’s dazzling performances moved him from 78th position to a career best 49th spot in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen. The right hander currently has an average of 103 with 309 runs under his belt in Tests.

A clear-cut investment for the future

Sri Lanka ended the winless drought in the shorter format after the assignment of Chandika Hathurusinghe as head coach but the injuries and the inconsistency of a few players tends to be a factor in the team. Niroshan Dickwella has been forced to come down the order as Upul Tharanga and Dhanushka Gunathilaka have built up solidity at the top. But the concern is that Dickwella has an average under 20 as a middle order batsman in ODI cricket.

Asela Gunarathne haven’t performed up to potential after returning from injury. Asela has been sidelined from the Nidahas Trophy as well due to injury. On the other hand, Angelo Mathews is set to return to limited overs format in the Nidahas Trophy and he will be hoping to be injury free and perform on a consistent basis. The selectors will be looking to sort out those drawbacks and feature a very good side for the all-important 2019 World Cup.

As Roshen Silva is piling up the runs easily in Test cricket, he will be also a very good option to be used in the ODIs. The 50 over format is not all only about striking boundaries, a player who can rotate the strike without throwing his wicket away, could play a vital role to construct an innings too. As a player with that temperament and character Roshen Silva will be an investment for Sri Lanka cricket. As Sri Lankans aren’t scheduled to play any ODIs in the forthcoming 4 months, Roshen will be looking to perform well in the Test series against the Windies and throw his name in the mix for the ODIs.

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