Commonwealth Games medalists congratulated by army commander – The Island
by Rex Clementine
Wrist beaters are a unique thing in the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra. GR Viswanath, Mohammad Azharuddin and VVS Laxman are some of those players whose wrist work is legendary. Unsure of young Sri Lankan cricketer Ranuda Somaratna’s ties to South India, but his sometimes steely, sometimes silky wrists were on display in Chelmsford as Sri Lanka Under-19s won a stunning victory in the first unofficial test on Wednesday.
When the Sri Lankan team set a target of 273 in 59 overs or two sessions, the game was even. But soon quick England Under-19s Thomas Aspinwall and Dominic Kelly, who previously played for Lancashire and Hampshire respectively in county cricket, cut Sri Lanka to 98 for five, the game was over.
Somaratne was still there and he had a responsibility – to beat through the last session to keep Sri Lanka in the series by getting a draw. But he had other intentions and refused to adopt a defensive frame of mind.
A few late partnerships flourished the Sri Lankan innings, especially the 88-run stand for the sixth wicket with wicketkeeper Lahiru Dawatage making 80 deliveries. The wicketkeeper also looks like a promising player having hit a run a ball 49.
Heading into the final hour, the match was terribly even, with Sri Lanka needing 87 runs from 17 overs. But England thought they had the game in hand requiring four wickets in cloudy conditions. Somaratne believed in his skill and raised his hundred with a limit and finished with an undefeated 120 who made 115 deliveries to complete his 65 in the first innings.
Hailing from Kurunegala, Somaratne’s talent was scouted at Sanath Jayasuriya Cricket Academy, a place that has produced good talent. Then, former Trinity College cricketer Bilal Fasy took young Somaratne under his wing and urged the school in Kandy to grant him a scholarship. The move from St. Anne’s to Trinity was made at that time and the young man did not look back.
Soothing to the eyes, Somaratne made some great films on Aspinwall, reminding you of Aravinda de Silva’s attack on Brett Lee in the 2003 World Cup at Centurion.
The Trinitian cent eclipsed the efforts of first inning centurion Asitha Wanninayake, who is also from Kurunegala but opted to relocate to St. Anthony’s, Katugastota. The other player to impress was Duvindu Ranatunga, 17, from Ratnapura where minor cricket is played. He passed the fifth year scholarship and came to Colombo for study and entered Mahanama College and started cricket as a hobby. #Sri Lanka will now move on to Derby where they will play the second Test. There they are set to meet old friends Mickey Arthur and Suranga Lakmal, the county head coach and overseas signing.