SL’s final chance to get act together
By Anjana Kaluarachchi
Sri Lanka will get their final opportunity to have a test run before walking in to the tournament when they take on Papua New Guinea in the second warm-up today at Abu Dhabi. Match commences at 11.30 a.m. Sri Lanka time.
This will be the first time Papua New Guinea will play against a Test playing Nation. Sri Lanka’s problem with the top order has been their main concern as even after three matches - including two in Oman - their top three have not performed up to the expected level.
Kusal Perera who was rested for the Oman series came back to the team against Bangladesh on Tuesday, but was not successful, while Pathum Nissanka and Dinesh Chandimal, who was dropped down to number three, met the same fate.
It was Avishka Fernando’s sublime form at number four and a late assault by Chamika Karunarathne that once again saved Sri Lankan blushes in the warm-up encounter after the top order failed.
Chasing 148 Sri Lanka even sent Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva up the order, but could not capitalize, which left things to Karunarathne who smashed 29 off 10 while Fernando stayed at the crease with an unbeaten 50. With four days to go for the island nation’s tournament opener against Namibia in Abu Dhabi, they will be praying for the top order to fire, which will give a big boost to their confidence.
On the bowling front, as expected Dushmantha Chameera was the main spearhead when he picked up three wickets, which he will want to continue during the tournament, while more will be expected from young finger spinner Matheesha Pathirana who resembles Ajantha Mendis.
Mahela Jayawardene was seen taking charge of the team and giving a motivational talk following the win against Bangladesh. He will certainly help the camp, which skipper Dasun Shanaka fully agreed on even before the tournament.