Nipun, Lahiru, Sahan knocks help SL end Day 1 on top

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Brilliant knocks from Nipun Dhananjaya (92), Lahiru Udara (63) and Sahan Arachchige (61) helped Sri Lanka ‘A’ post 330-9 at stumps on day one against Australia ‘A’ in the second four-day match at MRICS, Hambanthota.

Sri Lanka were off to a poor start losing their first three wickets inside 10 overs. After the early set back, Lahiru Udara from top of the order played an anchor role and rotated the strike with Nuwanidu Fernando to revive the innings with a fighting 63 runs off 133 deliveries including 3 boundaries.

After Udara was sent back to the pavilion, former Under-19 skipper Nipun Dhananjaya stood firm and rebuilt the innings with a fighting 92 runs off 130 balls.

Apart from Nipun, Sahan Arachchige chipped in with 61 runs from down the order to make sure Sri Lanka reached a respectable score. Mark Steketee and Scott Boland pick up four wickets each, but Australia A’s spinners struggled. Ashes hero Scott Boland playing his first game since the Marsh Sheffield Shield final almost three months ago, took 4-38 from 16 overs and joined Mark Steketee (4-69 from 17) in leading the Australia ‘A’ attack. In good conditions for the seamers, all nine wickets were caught off pace bowlers, including seven that were edged behind to the cordon.

While the fast men thrived, the Aussie spinners weren’t so lucky, as young leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha (0-68 from 15) and veteran tweaker Jon Holland (0-91 from 19) both conceded more than four-and-a-half runs an over. Steketee picked up two wickets in the morning session after the home side had elected to bat, before all-rounder Aaron Hardie got in on the act and Boland got to work. The Victorian’s first wicket came via an in-swinger that Sadeera Samarawickrama lobbed to mid-wicket. Boland then reverted to his trademark good length to pick up another three wickets before the close, all edged behind. Wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson picked up five catches, including a brilliant diving effort down the leg side to hand Steketee his third wicket, while Matt Renshaw and Marcus Harris grabbed two catches each.

While Boland continues to impress, he’s seemingly unlikely to play a role in the upcoming two-Test series in Galle that has traditionally favoured spin bowlers.

Selector George Bailey has already flagged the prospect that star quick Josh Hazlewood may again miss out as well due to the conditions, with the same pace attack to the one used for the recent Test triumph in Pakistan – Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc and allrounder Cameron Green – favoured to get the nod.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka ‘A’: 330-9 (Nipun Dhananjaya 92, Lahiru Udara 63, Sahan Arachchige 61, Mark Steketee 4-69, Scott Boland 4-38) vs Australa ‘A’