A Sri Lankan debutant cricketer has hit a Test hundred. Sri Lanka batsmen fresh out of the domestic system just don’t do things like hit hundreds away from home in their second Test innings.
For years, young Sri Lanka batsmen have been complaining that the gap between domestic cricket and international was an ever-widening chasm.
That they felt, essentially, like they’d had swimming lessons in a paddling pool with a drunk instructor, before being thrown into a shark-infested eddy.
And yet, there Pathum Nissanka was, through the end of day three and much of day four. Quelling the kind of pace-heavy attack he would almost never have faced at home, defusing the Dukes ball’s seam movement on a quicker.
Bouncier track than he is accustomed to, trusting his defence, riding out spells, picking his scoring opportunities.
Pathum Nissanka has had the best recent track record – his first-class average of 67.54 not just the best among Sri Lanka batsmen. But the best in the world among current Test cricketers.
Pathum Nissanka was fixated on survival. He didn’t score until he faced his 21st ball. He proceeded with extreme, self-denying caution after that, making just 18 from his first 70 deliveries.
Only when West Indies’ bowlers erred seriously in line, did he venture boundaries – all square of the wicket – and only six in total, in a 252-ball stay.
He is far from dour in domestic cricket – his strike rate up at 69 in the last first-class season; 76 the season before that. In both those seasons he had averaged around 90.
Through the course of his 179-run sixth wicket stand with Dickwella, Nissanka frequently seemed like the senior partner.
It’s enough that Nissanka has had a taste of success at the highest level, And that in Antigua he has set his team up to push for a win.
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