With Australia’s Test squad for next month yet to be picked, many eyes are keen to spot any performances that might warrant inclusion. So too, Sri Lanka A have been given players such as Jeevan Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal, with the specific intent to build up their experience, rather than bench warming for Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup. However, all involved may have been caught off guard when the pitch proved to be not a particularly traditional one.
Australia A’s captain George Bailey won the toss and elected to bat, but after the openers made a solid start of 40, they discovered the pitch was turning and bouncing. Off spinner Sachithra Senanayake bowled to a throng of close catchers as the top order struggled to defend. Four wickets fell before lunch and three more after on day one before Stephen O’Keefe and Ben Hilfenhaus; who had obviously found something to do during his time away from bowling; staged a resistance. Their counter-attack saw the innings last until after tea and as it later proved, well out of trouble.
Australia A 208 (66.3 ov)
Senanayake 8/70 (26.3 ov)
Prasad 2/21 (9.0 ov)
Sri Lanka A batted for 8 overs in dull light before play was ended for the day. The pacemen were initially ineffective, but O’Keefe snuck in with two maidens and a wicket. The next day started early and O’Keefe was right into it, cutting through the batting order to have Sri Lanka A dismissed before lunch. Lanky left armer Mitchell Starc helped out with the tail, but Peter George, with the wicket of Chamara Silva, was probably the pick of the seamers.
Sri Lanka A 103 (40.3 ov)
O’Keefe 7/35 (18 ov)
Starc 2/13 (4.3 ov)
With an unlikely 100 run lead, Australia A set about making a total. Conditions appeared to be getting easier and the batsmen were more fluent. “Maxie” Klinger and “Uzi” Khawaja played a couple of striking 30s, but both were bowled by Dammika Prasad, who was Sri Lanka A’s most; or perhaps only; effective seamer. Bailey was dropped twice off Prasad attempting to pull, but battled on to add a hundred runs with O’Keefe. Hilfenhaus picked up where he left off and although he was the beneficiary of another drop, he continued to thrash the bowlers until the innings was ended.
Australia A 318 (82.4 ov)
Prasad 3/59 (17 ov)
Senanayake 3/110 (25 ov)
Set 424 for victory, Sri Lanka A could take little solace that there were now runs out there for even tailenders. They were steady and threatening, but although the top order made a consistent range of scores between 29 and 58, they will lament that not one could go any further. Perhaps vengeful for his early first innings dismissal, Paranavitana conflagrated O’Keefe for 18 runs off his first over, but the very next over he was dismissed by George, who was the sole destroyer for much of the innings. Although O’Keefe bowled ten more decent overs, his figures never really recovered from the early battering. The highly rated 20 year old Chandimal was imperious but mishandled a cut to Matthew Wade for 54. Soon after, keeper Kaushal Silva fell and then the all-rounder Mendis gave George his five. Sri Lankan veteran Chamara Silva staged something of a fight back with the lower order, but it was Hilfenhaus who found his form with the second new ball and zipped through the last five wickets.
Sri Lanka A 316 (90.5 ov)
LPC Silva 58
JK Silva 47
Hilfenhaus 5/63 (21.5 ov)
George 5/84 (21 ov)
A curious match, perhaps you would say it was played in reverse. It was one that certainly could have pipped the likes of South Africa and the West Indies for entertainment, in the end a comfortable win to Aus A by 107 runs. The two teams will meet again at Townsville on Friday.
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