Lahiru Kumara showed pace and attacking intent with the ball despite the hot and humid condition at Trinidad…..
Sri Lanka have been under the pump in the ongoing opening Test against West Indies at Port Of Spain so far. But their hopes of winning the game are still alive as their batsmen are battling it out in the middle. After a mixed outing with the ball in the first innings, their batting crumbled like nine pins and gave West Indies the edge. Their bowling did well with the top and middle-order, but struggled with consistency and had a tough time against the lower-order in the first innings. Amidst all this, there were a few moments of glory for Sri Lanka and Lahiru Kumara was indubitably the shining light in both the innings.
Kumara’s presence is intimidating at the crease; lanky in stature, well-built, intense expressions and rhythmic run-up, Kumara has the ingredients to become an impactful fast bowler. He is a bowler of real potential and could do well for Sri Lanka in the long run. He may be erratic at times, but has shown plethora of brilliance while putting in the hard yards. To begin with, he has a nasty bouncer and can move the ball into the right-hander day in and day out. Not to forget, he can also take the ball away. He had shown such great promise, that his selection in the Sri Lankan Test squad was made on the back of eight days of First-Class cricket back in 2016.
In 9 games so far, Kumara may have not shown his real potential, but there is a lot in the store from the promising fast bowler. An average of 49.43 may not look very impressive, but Kumara will certainly better these numbers in the time to come.
Talking about this Test match, West Indies was always going to a tough nut to crack for Sri Lanka. The visiting side has been undergoing a rebuilding phase for a while now and has shown sporadic sparks of brilliance. They still have a lot of loopholes to be filled, but the signs are promising.
The bowling attack led by Suranga Lakmal had enough firepower to test West Indies’ batting and they did well to put them on the back foot in the first innings. At 147 for 5, West Indies looked in hot water, but the lower-order bailed them out at a pivotal time. Kumara bowled with some flair and had four wickets under his belt.
After cleaning up Kieran Powell with a peach of a delivery, which swung in late at a menacing speed, Kumara got the better of Shai Hope with a short-pitched delivery. Hope’s wicket was a reward for some aggressive bowling, a quality which Kumara is widely-reckoned for. Later, Kumara also dismissed skipper Jason Holder and Kemar Roach as West Indies declared at 414 for 8.
Sri Lanka’s batting floundered for 185, which gave West Indies a massive lead. West Indies batted again and their intentions were clear – setting a massive target for the visiting side to chase. Kumara did well to put brakes by chipping three more wickets in the second innings as West Indies once again declared with 223 runs on the board for the loss of seven wickets. This time his victims were Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich. He might have leaked few runs, but attacked and did well enough to have some wickets to his name.
Although Sri Lanka have a mountain to climb at Port of Spain in the fourth innings, but Sri Lankan bowlers did show some discipline and kept things tight in the second innings. They have done their job quite efficiently, but the failure of their batting department has affected their run so far. Kumara has had a healthy run so far, and will be the man to watch for the remainder of the series. West Indies would have certainly desired for a bigger target, but Sri Lankan bowlers did well to put brakes on regular intervals.
Irrespective of what result this match concludes, West Indies can only afford to underestimate Sri Lanka at their own peril. Their bowlers tightened the noose in both the innings, and almost had the momentum with them. West Indies batting does look a little fragile and Sri Lankan bowlers will undoubtedly test them. It will be interesting to see if Sri Lankan batsmen manage to pull off a miracle in the run-chase or not? If they do so, then this side will be the team to beat in the series. But with two more games to go, expect Sri Lanka and Kumara to only get better as the time progresses.