115 Ball Avishka Fernando century sets the pace for Sri Lankan victory.

Avishka Fernando celebrating his l Century Picture courtesy: espncricinfo.com

By: Nalin Jayetileke 

Sri Lanka beat South Africa by 14 runs in the 1st ODI played against the two counties here at the R Premadasa stadium on 2nd Sep 2021, with Sri Lanka winning the toss and electing to bat first.

The game started under slight over cast conditions, with Sri Lanka placed 11th and South Africa placed 10th in the ODI Rankings with both running to qualify for a place to paly in the World Cup. The ball was expected to show a lot of turn, but the two sides negotiated the Spin well to put up a good display with the bat with Sri Lanka having the edge over the visitors at the end, with a 14 run win.

As per the Sri Lankan Captain Dasun  Shanaka’s pre-match press conference, Sri Lanka was Looking at the use of spin for this match and as expected by the Skipper, used his bowlers tactfully where , Akila Dananjaya played a significant role by taking the wicket of the well set  Rassie van der Dussen for 59, which kind of put the brakes on the  South Africans. Akila ended up with 2 wickets for 65 runs whilst Charmikara , Hasaranga, and Jayawickrama taking a wicket each.

Sri Lanka went into the match with only one senior player , Danajaya De Silva in the absence of Kusal Janih Perera who is nursing an injury but the team put-up an excellent performance with the not so experienced rallying round the experienced  Dananjaya, who made 44 off 62 balls whilst Avishaka Fernando and Asalanka went on to score 118 off 115 balls and 72 off 62.. Balls respectively, to give Sri Lanka the much needed depth in their score that was defendable at The end.

The Man of the Match Awishka Fernando who made 118 off 115 balls were a treat to watch as he played his natural game stemming out of his starting block being at St Sébastien’s College Moratuwa where he in fact, made centuries at the age of 14, playing for the 1st Elven. Fernando’s stepping out as a hard hitting batsman of international class, came when he went on to make 95 runs off  96 balls in Sri Lanka’s victory over England in the quarter-final of the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. The same year he hit two consecutive hundreds against England, during the time where he was Coached by the legendry former Sri Lanka top  order batsman, Mr Roy Dias in a U 19 side which was managed by the former SSC first class captain Mr Mahinda Halangoda,  a stern disciplinarian. It has been this foundation with good Coaching and Discipline at that level which has made Avishka Fernando the player he is today.

It was very encouraging to note that Sri Lanka put –up a good display of batting as they scored over 90 runs off the 1st 10 overs with Avishka and Minod Barnuka scoring 41 runs off the 1st 6 overs. However, when Mararaj was introduced in the 7th over runs kind of dried down for Sri Lanka till such time Avishka and Danajay De Silva build up the momentum again, as Sri Lnka were 57 for 2 Wickets at one stage , a stage which the South Africans could not capitalize applying pressure on the Sri Lankans. It was here the Experienced Danajaya De Silva made his presence felt with playing his part as a senior, alongside Avishka and Asalanka to steer Sri Lanka to a defendable total.

With this win, Sri Lanka has moved up in the ladder up to the 8th slot tapping at the door for a placement at the World Cup.

Mr  Kumara Dharamasena and Ruvhira Palliyaguruge were the tow Impairs for the match whilst Mr Hanibal slotting in as the 3rd umpire and Mr Ranjan Madugalle as match referee.

The sundayreader.lk news team would like to take this opportunity to Congratulate the Sri Lankan team and wish them all success for the future games!