Lakmal needs to lead by an example for Sri Lanka…..
The onus of making a comeback in the final Test of the three-match series is on Sri Lanka. After being outplayed in the series opener, Sri Lanka showed nerves of steel in the second game to save the Test. And this is their golden chance of squaring the series with an emphatic win. They have started off on a promising note and look well on track under immense pressure.
Sri Lanka were unfortunate to miss out on skipper Dinesh Chandimal after ICC dismissed his appeal against one-match ban for ball tampering. In his absence, Suranga Lakmal was appointed as the stand-in skipper for the crucial final encounter. The leader of the pace attack has been instrumental in the recent times and was the right man to do the job. Lakmal didn’t have a great run in the series opener; one of the reasons behind Sri Lanka’s ineffectiveness.
Coming to the third encounter, the pressure was and will be on Suranga Lakmal to lead the side with an example. Sri Lanka needed their strike bowler to step up and deliver when the chips were down and he rightly did so. West Indies won the toss and opted to bat first, with rain clouds looming over, one could have expected the bowlers to get some help from the conditions.
Sri Lanka needed early wickets to put any kind of pressure on West Indies. The hosts were high on confidence and Sri Lanka, on the other hand, were without two key players. Lakmal started the proceedings with the new ball and made no mistake in chipping a wicket off his very first over.
Devon Smith poked at a length delivery from Lakmal, which was safely caught by Dhananjaya at third slip. Sri Lanka drew the first blood and put West Indies on the back foot right at at the outset, which was much-needed. Lakmal wasn’t done yet, he steamed in and scalped another wicket that of Kraigg Brathwaite in his third over to put West Indies in all sorts of trouble.
Brathwaite has a knack of playing marathon innings, but on this occasion, he was undone by Lakmal. Gunathilaka took an absolute stunner, when Lakmal surprised Brathwaite with some bounce and away movement. At 8 for 2, Sri Lanka got the perfect kind of start they were looking for and it was provided by none other than, Lakmal.
Lakmal was equally supported by other bowlers, as a unit, they did a fantastic job in restricting West Indies to 132 for 5 at stumps on Day 1. Despite rains playing the spoilsport, 46.3 overs of the game was possible. Sri Lanka are in total command and will look to clean West Indies early when play resumes on Day 2. West Indies doesn’t have a lot of batting to come, and were once precariously placed at 53 for 5, but a crucial partnership between Shane Dowrich and Jason Holder avoided a disaster.
Lakmal so far has bowled 15 overs for two wickets and led the side with an example. The pressure was on him to deliver as a captain and lift the tempo of the side, which he has done quite effectively so far. The job is not done yet, Sri Lanka need to chip more five wickets and Lakmal would be eyeing to inflict early damage on the second day.
Lakmal only had three wickets in the first Test and just four in the second. He is Sri Lanka’s strike bowler and a lot is expected from him. His most loyal fan would have agreed to the fact that he has not lived up to the expectations in the series so far. It is often said, pressure gets the best out of players, and things wouldn’t have been more tensed than it was for Sri Lanka before the start of the third Test.
Lakmal managed to soak in the pressure and deliver when his team needed the most. One should also remember, Sri Lanka are without the services of Rangana Herath, which puts additional pressure on the bowling department. Although they did well without the left-arm spinner in the second Test, but his presence is always a boon to any side.
Sri Lanka cannot afford to fizzle out on Day 2, as batting under the lights would be difficult for them too. As of now, Lakmal’s primary target would be to break the budding partnership and clean West Indies early. Their bowling will have a huge role to play if they are eyeing to win the Test, and Lakmal will be the man to watch out for in this encounter. He has got off to a good start but has a long way to go.