“As much as the Delhi Test showcased his temperament and maturity, the half-century here at Dhaka would go down as the innings that shaped the career of Roshen Silva. He dug out the whole nine yards and single-handedly took Lanka to a plausible match-winning total”.
It was about time Sri Lanka found their mojo back. They had suffered enough, lost enough and cried enough. 2017 was humiliating for them with embarrassing losses, mortifying whitewashes and a lot more. They seemed to be hunting down anyone and everyone who could hold a bat properly as players walked in and walked out.
7 losses in 13 Tests in 2017 was far from ideal for a team that loved to have everything in apple pie order before the start of a series. Yet, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. It also did not help that they played a herculean Indian side twice (home and away) when stuck in a rut.
2018, though, has begun with promise and it stems from two of the only players who stood up for them in 2017 – Dhananjaya de Silva and Roshen Silva. On a flat, nonsensical pitch at Chittagong, de Silva stroked his way to a fabulous 173 but he would still rue getting out on such a wicket. Silva, on the other hand, had also made a hundred but his priceless 56 on day 1 of a tricky pitch at Dhaka stood out in all its glory.
Silva walked in with Sri Lanka in tatters after Abdur Razzaq struck twice in two balls to send back Danushka Gunathilaka and Dinesh Chandimal. At 96/4 it wasn’t an ideal start for the visitors but they would have realised that the pitch was completely different from that at Chittagong and anything close to 200 would be a good total.
Razzaq had bamboozled the two batsmen with sharp, square turn but started off with an arm ball to Roshen Silva who calmly rocked back and defended solidly back to the bowler. If Bangladesh didn’t realise it, Silva had already got into the groove with a single ball. Taijul Islam nearly had him when an edge fell short of Mushfiqur Rahim but Silva had cleverly played it with soft hands.
The post-lunch session began with the hosts prizing out Kusal Mendis, once again Abdur Razzaq doing damage on his return to the International fold. Islam added to Lanka’s woes sending Niroshan Dickwella on his way next over.
Testing situation, but no problem as Roshen is there
Silva wasn’t one to be intimidated though. He lunged forward and rocked back with absolute ease and seamlessly switched between attack and defence in the blink of an eye. There was rarely a moment when he was in two minds and it showed the sheer class of Silva.
He waltzed down the track to meet the ball when they landed it short of a length and inevitably got to the pitch of the ball every time. When they landed it shorter, he would rock back and punish them through mid-wicket. When Taijul looked to flight, Silva was quick to put on his dancing shoes and send the ball into orbit over long-on.
It was dogged resistance combined with positive intent merged into one beautiful concoction. He had lifted Sri Lanka a touch in the company of Dilruwan Perera close to tea but lost his partner just before the break.
His half-century came soon enough, a knock that defied all odds as he rallied together the tail and lifted Sri Lanka from the abyss to help post a rather good total on a deteriorating surface. Probably the one mistake he made in the innings cost him his wicket. It was rudely unfair for the sublime, almost divine, innings to come to an abrupt end.
It was Siva’s third consecutive 50+ score in Tests after a debut innings duck at Delhi. A feature of his batting in the short time the cricketing world has seen him is his undying, relentless attitude combined with a solid mindset to cross the Rubicon and to stay out there in the middle, something Sri Lanka sorely missed for the better half of 2017.
It is also worth noticing that all of his three 50+ scores has a completely different area of strong zone as CricProf points out.
— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) February 8, 2018
If at Delhi, he was playing out of his skin on debut to save a Test, it was a pressure-free hundred for the taking at Chittagong. At Dhaka, he needed to cut out every single reflex bone in his body and grit it out with Bangladesh spinners running havoc on a first day pitch where even Don Bradman would have fancied bowling his leg breaks. The shots square of the wicket were completely abandoned as the bounce wasn’t trustable and he relied on scoring down the ground and in the “V” arc.
82% of Silva’s runs came in front of the wicket, a stark contrast to Chittagong where more than 50% of his runs came behind the wicket. It shows how quickly the middle-order batsman reads conditions and adapts to situations.
While Mendis in his 68 preferred to rock back to the spinners, Silva loved meeting them on the move and camped on the front foot more. He was, however, even more, careful in defence than Mendis as the onus was on him to take Lanka to a fine score after the established batsmen departed soon after his entry.
As much as the Delhi Test showcased his temperament and maturity, the half-century here at Dhaka would go down as the innings that shaped the career of Roshen Silva. He dug out the whole nine yards and single-handedly took Lanka to a plausible match-winning total.