Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Rise Of The Sri Lankan Heroes in Durban

Insultingly, the ex South African Captain Kepler Wessels stated that a South African A Team could beat Sri Lanka after the 1st Test rout. It seems that this rankled the Sri Lankan's in a major way, and gave rise to a determination to let Mr Wessels have egg on his face for his disrespectful remarks. 


Good on them too!


This determination has been translated into a performance here in Durban that has paid respect to their talents.


So let us pay homage to the Sri Lankan heroes of the first three days, and then look to the ones that will ensure a memorable victory.


Thilan Samaraweera


The despicable Pakistan terrorist attack still gives you chills as a cricket fan. That involved the Sri Lankan Cricket team being fired on with Thilan Samaraweera being the man that copped the brunt of its fury with a bullet in his leg.


Chillingly, it has been reported that Thilan's wife sleeps with the bullet taken out of her husband under her pillow. As a reminder of just how close to losing his life he was as well as a host of his Team mates.


That event would have brought many men to his knees, and then worse for Samaraweera he has been treated shabbily by the Sri Lankan Selectors with him being dropped during the Australian series and initially not selected for this tour.


In defiance of them he was the man that commandeered the renaissance of the Sri Lankan batting in the 1st innings of this Test. After the sincere shame of the their 1st Test efforts with the willow in hand


In scoring 102 against an exceptional attack and on a tricky pitch for batting. He showed all of the typical grit that has so symbolised his cricket career and with it he restored reputation in the batting.


His resolute, no risk batting was just what Sri lanka needed after a host of soft dismissals that have plagued their batting for way too long!


Dinesh Chandimal


This precociously talented batsmen/keeper symbolically gained his debut on the anniversary of his greatest tragedy. That saw his brother perish in the tragic Sri Lankan Tsunami of 2004


In this Test he not only gave a great tribute to his brothers memory with his play, but answered Sri Lanka's greatest need. In respect to being a very neat and tidy gloveman as well as a batsmen coming in at 7 who can make decisive contributions.


He was huge in the 1st innings in partnership with Samaraweera. After coming in with Sri Lanka teetering on the verge of yet another collapse at 162/5. He played a game defining innings of 58 to restore Sri Lanka's ascendency.


Replicating the contribution in the 2nd innings with Sri Lanka at 141/5 with 54 that ensured a lead of over 400 for his team.


Great first Test for the young man, and I am sure his brother is applauding as he witnesses it from Heaven!


Chanaka Welegedara


Since the retirement of the legends Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralidaran the Sri lankan attack has had all the threat of a under 15 Galle schoolboys side on the International scene. When they are away from their paradise island they are quite literally a treat for batsmen to feast on.


It seems that this burly left arm quick Welegedara took umbrage to the jibes against his Teams bowling, and decided to make a difference. He not only made that choice, but my word did he make it a reality by dismembering South Africa's batting in the 1st innings!


Combining swing with real guile to dismiss 4 of South Africa's mighty top 5 on the way to getting figures of 52/5


Kumar Sangakkara


In truth, for such a Statesman of the game who is on a par with others of similar ilk like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. Kumar Sangakkara rarely gets the respect that he so deserves for his masterful batting.


The tired old line about him being a 'flat track bully' is always referred too when his name comes up in discussion.


Which in truth is a load of old Codswallop!


You just have to look at his average of 53.27 with 10 centuries and 17 50's away from Sri Lanka to realise this.


This tour has seen those lines be spoken constantly about him after his dual failures in his first three innings of this Tour. Forgotten to be mentioned was that he was dismissed in all three innings by near unplayable deliveries.


It seemed that his luck changed here when he was dropped on 3. Duly with that slice of good fortune he dazzled us with all his mastery in defence and attack with an array of breath taking shots.


His innings of 108 served to shut up his doubters, and put his Team in an impregnable position.


The Day 4/5 Hero- Rangana Herath


A lead of well over 400 with two days left to play, and the pitch already spinning and showing variable bounce.


For any spinner worth his salt it is a bed to lie in with the relentless pressure on the batsmen that the lead will ensure. As symbolised by a bus load of Sri Lankan fieldsmen in close.


In the case of the very wily and skilled left armer Herath, it will be the catalyst for him to lead Sri Lanka to a famous victory.

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