ICC World Cup Preview: Struggling Sri Lanka look to change fortunes

By Mariah Ramharack May 15, 2019

An experience Sri Lanka looks to turn around poor form heading to World Cup.

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  • Karunaratne and Thirimanne put Sri Lanka in sight of victory with record stand Karunaratne and Thirimanne put Sri Lanka in sight of victory with record stand

    Sri Lanka put themselves in a strong position to win the first Test against New Zealand as their run chase began with an unbroken century stand.

    Set 268 for victory in Galle, Sri Lanka were handsomely placed on 133-0 when fading light stopped play late on day four.

    Dimuth Karunaratne reached 71 not out and Lahiru Thirimanne was undefeated on 57, in what was already a record first-wicket partnership for Sri Lanka in the fourth innings of a Test.

    New Zealand, who sit second in the ICC Test rankings, stretched their overnight lead of 177 to 267, with BJ Watling adding 14 to his overnight score before being caught behind for 77 by Niroshan Dickwella off Lahiru Kumara.

    William Somerville made an unbeaten 40, with Trent Boult cracking a rapid 26 and last man Ajaz Patel weighing in with 14, the lower-order batting success in the innings of 285 all out suggesting it was a wicket ripe for scoring on Saturday.

    That was how it continued to look as Sri Lanka began chasing down their target, although Tim Southee and Trent Boult gave Karunaratne and Thirimanne cause for early worry.

    Thirimanne was well beaten by a ball from Southee that narrowly cleared off stump, before moments later Karunaratne almost nicked a delicious delivery from Boult.

    It was often Karunaratne who was riding his luck, and it was not until the 22nd over that Sri Lanka, ranked sixth among Test nations, registered a boundary.

    Later, Watling could not cling to a difficult chance as Karunaratne got a bottom edge off Somerville, the ball going through the wicketkeeper to bring up the two runs that took him to a half-century.

    Tom Latham at short leg missed out on a sharp chance as Karunaratne used up another life, and the same batsman was fortunate not to be stumped by Watling in the next over.

    Somerville, a 35-year-old off-spinner playing just his second Test match, took three first-innings wickets and was unlucky to gain no further reward as Sri Lanka edged towards their target in the gathering gloom.

  • 'I didn’t like the start'- Windies legend Richards not impressed with early steps of Skerritt association 'I didn’t like the start'- Windies legend Richards not impressed with early steps of Skerritt association

    West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has admitted to feeling let down by the Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI), following its controversial decision to dismiss the coaching staff ahead of the ICC World Cup.

    Less than a month after taking the reins of the association from the four-term president Dave Cameron, the decision was taken to dismiss interim coach Richard Pybus and the entire selection panel.

     The decision was particularly debatable with the ICC World Cup just a few weeks away and the interim-coach and team having put on an outstanding performance against England, the world’s number one team, and eventual World Cup winners only a month prior.

    Despite being a huge supporter of the Skerritt slate ahead of it being elected, Richards strongly believed it was a major misstep.

    “To be fair I did put my everything behind my support for the individual who is at the helm, but I wasn’t happy with the so-called coming into that particular position and just the way in which subtle little changes were made to get certain individuals in place for them to be managers and coaches of the tour to the World Cup.  I didn’t like the start and I made my point, Richards said.

    “I didn’t like the start. I am hoping that the finish is much better than the start.”

  • Latham eyes lead of over 200 after Watling rescues Black Caps Latham eyes lead of over 200 after Watling rescues Black Caps

    Tom Latham believes setting Sri Lanka in excess of 200 will give New Zealand a great chance of winning the first Test after BJ Watling dug in on an eventful day three in Galle.

    Lasith Embuldeniya (4-71) claimed two early wickets as Sri Lanka reduced the Black Caps to 25-3 after Niroshan Dickwella (61) and Suranga Lakmal (40) got them up to 267 all out - securing a first-innings lead of 18.

    Watling (63 not out) and Latham (45) made key runs as the spinners piled on the pressure with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor falling cheaply. 

    The tourists were leading by 177 on 195-7 when stumps were called due to bad light on Friday and Latham thinks Sri Lanka could be up against it if Watling and the tail can hang around on day four.

    "I think anything above 200, we are not too far off from that," the opening batsman said.

    "The important thing for us is to come back tomorrow morning and put up those partnerships like we did today. Like Tim Southee (23), Will Somerville can help us build a partnership with BJ, who has been outstanding today.

    "Hopefully we can stitch that total to make as many as possible. We know how tough it can be in the fourth innings to chase down a score.

    "It's a surface where when you get in, you can score, but sometimes things happen quickly in this part of the world. This wicket is no different.

    "Through the three innings we have seen wickets lost in a hurry. Hopefully we can put pressure on the Sri Lankans and the wicket keeps deteriorating and the spinners will come into play."

    Dickwella is confident Sri Lanka can pull off a successful run chase if they wrap up New Zealand's second innings before too long.

    "The wicket is turning but it is slow turn. Slower than what we usually get in Galle. Even if we get a target of 225 or so, I think we can chase it down." said the wicketkeeper-batsman.

    "Batting fourth will be tough on this wicket, no doubt, but we have a decent batting line-up. Those chasing stats are what teams have done in past.

    "We're a different team and this is a different opposition. We have to play according the situation. Our batters will do the job, I feel."

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