The ninth-wicket pair, Thikshila De Silva and Pulina Tharanga, added 30 crucial runs as Sri Lanka Cricket President’s XI defeated the visiting West Indians by 2 wickets in a tense finish during their first warm-up clash at P. Sara Oval Grounds on Monday.
Chasing 283 runs to win, the hosts were 8 down for 253 in the 44th over when the Chilaw Marians CC team mates, De Silva and Tharanga, joined hands to take Sri Lanka over the winning line, scoring an unbeaten 25 and 11 respectively.
Former Sri Lanka captain and seasoned campaigner, Upul Tharanga issued a strong statement to the selectors earlier, stating that there is still more to offer from his blade. He smashed a brilliant 120 off 124 balls with 16 fours and 1 six.
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After both Sandun Weerakkody and Pathum Nissanka departed without troubling the scores, 35 year-old Tharanga found the ideal man to resurrect the innings in discarded all-rounder, Asela Gunaratne, who also made his presence felt with a steady 75-ball 64.
They added 198 runs for the third wicket to put the Lankan side on course, but the visiting spinners, left-arm orthodox Fabian Allen and right-arm leggy Hayden Walsh, crippled the chase.
After Tharanga became Allen’s first wicket, Gunaratne ran himself out. Players like Angelo Perera, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashen Bandara and Lahiru Udara failed to grab the opportunity to impress the selectors with both hands, as they were dismissed meekly.
On a sunny Monday morning, the Windies opted to bat first. On a placid P. Sara surface, young seam-bowling duo, left-armer Dilshan Madushanka and right-arm Asitha Fernando made early breakthroughs; removing the openers, Brendon King and Shai Hope, for ducks.
Darren Bravo, after being axed from the World Cup squad last year, guaranteed himself a position in the opening ODI game on Saturday when he scored a 88-ball 100 with 14 fours and 1 six to guide the visitors to 282. Just after reaching three figures, Bravo retired, while Nicholas Pooran and Sunil Ambris made 41 each to get themselves warmed up for the three-match series.
However, head coach Phil Simmons will not be pleased with their batting effort as they failed to bat out the allotted 50 overs. 19 year-old Madushanka was the most impressive bowler for the Lankans, picking up 3 scalps for 47, while Fernando ended with 2 for 17.
The Windies will play their second and final warm-up match on Thursday, 20th February in Katunayake before they take on Dimuth Karunaratne’s men on Saturday, 22nd February at SSC Grounds.