Thirimanne hits ton in drawn game

By Naushad Amit

The only practice match ahead of the first Test in Galle played between the Sri Lanka Board XI and the Australians ended in a tame draw at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo yesterday.

However the three-day match turned out to be testing ground for the batsmen and bowlers of both sides as Australians and Sri Lankans had an opportunity to assess their playing levels in the longer version of the game.

Lahiru Thirimanne who was unbeaten on 100, hits out. – Pic by Ranjith Perera

Apart from Australian fast bowler Trent Copeland who claimed his fourth first class five wicket haul with first inning figures of five for 47, batsmen dominated the proceedings. The tourists found a prospective batsman in opener Usman Khawaja, who has played just a Test match against England, in addition to fine batting displays from Michael Clarke and Phil Hughes. The home team was on with an average batting display in the first innings but opener Lahiru Thirimanne gave the Sri Lankans a worthy treat with an unbeaten 100 in the second innings.

Sri Lankans were 174 for the loss of two wickets when the three-day encounter concluded, soon after opener Lahiru Thirimanne reached a century. The Australians resuming from their overnight score of 311 for the loss of five wickets reached 393 before losing all their batsmen in reply to Sri Lankan Board XI’s first innings score of 258 all out.

Australia resuming from their overnight score of 311 for the loss of five wickets were restricted to 393 by a combined bowling attack of pace and spin by the Sri Lankans. After Khawaja hit a watchful 101 on the second day, Clarke continued his form as a batsman from the concluded ODI series with an efficient 104 yesterday. Khawaja indicated the resurgence of a new generation batsman in the top grade as he stroked a chanceless 101 off 209 balls with eight boundaries and two sixes. Clarke who was unbeaten on 61 overnight faced 127 balls during his brisk 104 which also had 12 boundaries and a six.

The Australians looked well set for a big total at 323 for five but they lost the remaining five wickets for just 60 runs shortly before lunch. Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera was the most successful bowler of all, finishing with figures of three for 137 off 46 overs. Sri Lanka lost two quick wickets but Thirimanne and Mathews batted sensibly to help them reach 174 for two when stumps were drawn.

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