Arnold and Atapattu in unbroken 185 run stand

Sa'adi Thawfeeq reporting from the Caribbean

Wednesday 11, June 1997

ST. JOHN'S, ANTIGUA Tuesday - Left-handed opener Russell Arnold became the first Sri Lankan to score a century in the Caribbean, when he hit an undefeated 104 on the second day of the three-day tour match against Leeward Islands at St. John's Recreation Grounds here yesterday.

Arnold and Marvan Atapattu, who made an unbeaten 90, shared an unbroken second wicket partnership of 185 as Sri Lanka finished the day on a high note at 213 for one wicket- an overall lead of 257, with nine wickets in hand and a day remaining.

However, a winning result is not Sri Lanka's priority at the moment, as they will be looking forward to give some of their other frontline batsmen, like Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillekeratne and Romesh Kaluwitharana a long knock in the middle ahead of Friday's first Test match.

Things really worked out Sri Lanka's way today. Their declaration on the first day at 192 for 6 paid dividends, as their bowlers spearheaded by ace spinner Muthiah Muralitharan dismissed the island team for 148 shortly after lunch, leaving them with 56 overs of batting.

Arnold and Atapattu made the maximum use of them, after first innings top scorer Roshan Mahanama had departed 13, falling lbw to Mickey Mills in the eighth over. Arnold driving, pulling and cutting in conditions favourable for batting, went to his fifty in 98 minutes (5 fours) and having survived a dropped catch to Renako Morton at slip off left-arm spinner Warrington Phillip at 89 reached his century with an edge through slips for his tenth four. It took him 193 minutes and came off 147 balls.

Atapattu needing a big innings behind him, matched Arnold for stroke play, and went to his half-century in 111 minutes with six fours. By the close he had hit 10 fours in a chanceless display of 172 minutes which would have given him enough confidence for the Test.

Despite his splendid effort, Arnold may have to sit out the Test, as Sanath Jayasuriya, who was rested for this game will return to partner Mahanama.

Sri Lanka did extremely well to come back into contention by bowling out Leeward Islands for 148 and gain a handy 44 runs lead in the first innings. The main damage was done in the afternoon session by off spinner Muralitharan, whose spell of 3 for 11 off five overs saw the island team lose their last five wickets for 15 runs. Muralitharan who had an unproductive first spell of none for 19 in 10 overs, finished with figures of 4 for 34. His spin partner Kumara Dharmasena, although a bit expensive, cleaned up the tail to end with figures of 2 for 37.

Wicket-keeper/ batsman Ridley Jacob, who toured Sri Lanka with the West Indies 'A' team last year and whose non-selection to the West Indies test squad has met with bitter disapproval from the local press, took scored with a hard hit 35 off 28 balls inclusive of one six and four fours.

Fast bowler Dulip Liyanage and Ravindra Pushpakumara, shared the other four wickets between them. But like Arnold, Pushpakumara may not find himself in the final 11 on Friday as left-armer Sajeewa de Silva is heavily in favour to share the new ball with Liyanage.

Thursday 12, June 1997

Sri Lanka complete build-up for the first Test against Windies

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

ST. JOHN'S, ANTIGUA (Tuesday) - Sri Lanka completed their impressive build-up before Friday's inaugural Test against the West Indies in the Caribbean with virtually all their top-order batsmen getting amongst the runs in their only 3-day game against Leeward Islands which ended in a draw here today.

With Russell Arnold and Marvan Atapattu completing centuries and vice-captain Aravinda de Silva joining the run parade with a well-compiled innings of 80, Sri Lanka declared at 398 for 4 in the second innings.

The declaration, more or less a token one (443 runs to win in 37 overs), also gave the tour selectors a chance of assessing the fast bowlers for the Test.

On the easy-paced pitch neither Ravindra Pushpakumara nor Dulip Liyanage made any impression on the Leeward Island openers, Junie Mitchum and Alex Adams. Each completed a half-century to take their side to 128 for no loss, when stumps were drawn at the end of the fourth mandatory over. Both Pushpakumara and Liyanage along with left-armer Sajeeva de Silva are vying for the fast bowlers' place in the Test side.

Left-hander Arnold and Atapattu carried their second wicket partnership to worth 242 runs in 229 minutes before being parted. Atapattu starting the day needing 10 for his hundred, duly completed it in the seventh over of the morning by back cutting Wintmore Quinn for a single. He raised his century in 194 minutes off 183 balls hitting 10 fours. But at 118, he lost his concentration and was caught at short extra cover attempting to drive Mickey Mills. Atapattu faced 209 balls in a stay of 229 minutes and hit 11 fours overall, in a chanceless display.

His wicket was the only one Sri Lanka lost in the morning session when they carried their score from 213 for one to 320 for 2.

Arnold continued to show that Sri Lanka had an ideal opening batsman at hand for the future, by going on to make a monumental 158. His lengthy innings occupying 338 minutes and 253 balls was eventually ended when he swept left-arm spinner Warrington Phillip to backward square-leg's hands. Arnold hit 12 fours and at 112, was given a second 'life' when Renako Morton, who had put him down at slip at 89 the previous day, once more, let slip the opportunity that came his way. The unfortunate bowler on this occasion was Quinn.

De Silva after a cautious beginning, got into his stride to strike one six and nine fours in his innings of 80 before miscuing Phillip to be caught at deep extra cover. Having reached his fifty with a six into the Andy Roberts stand, De Silva batted overall for 137 minutes and faced 145 balls, playing himself in ahead of Friday's Test match. He came to the wicket with scores of seven and six behind him and proved that he had recovered from the virus that had laid him low at the start of the tour.

At the fall of De Silva's wicket, Sri Lanka closed their innings as the Leeward Islands deprived the tourists of batting practice against the fast bowlers by not claiming the second new ball. They continued with the old ball for 112 overs until Sri Lanka applied the closure.

Source: The Daily News

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:31