Roshen Silva has scored over 6,000 runs in more than 100 first-class matches before he was awarded his Test debut here in Delhi. The patience that he had shown all that while awaiting his chance in the national team was the hallmark of his batting as he helped the struggling Sri Lanka save the third Test against India here on the final day on Thursday.
The visitors’ effort was in complete contrast to the Sri Lankan first innings, where two of their most experienced batsmen – Angelo Mathews and skipper Dinesh Chandimal – scored tons to absorb most of the pressure.
But when it came to saving the Test, Sri Lanka’s young brigade stood up, with Dhananjaya de Silva (119 retired hurt), Roshen (74*) and Niroshan Dickwella (44*) ensuring that India did not walk away with a 2-0 scoreline in the three-match series.
Having got just two wickets in 87 overs on Wednesday, a draw left India pocketing the series 1-0 with plenty to ponder upon before flying out for a tough series in South Africa.
And even out of the two wickets, Mathews’s one was a gift as Ravindra Jadeja had over-stepped the bowling crease and all the three umpires failed to spot it.
Sri Lanka ended the day at 299/5, 111 short of the 410-run target, when play was ended eight overs before the regulation time. For the record, Sri Lanka could have become the first visiting team to have scored 300 twice in the same Test here.
India skipper Virat Kohli ran out of ideas and was left frustrated by the Sri Lankan batting prowess. Why, he even tried himself and Murali Vijay in his quest to get a breakthrough.
But it was heartening to see the Sri Lankans fighting back after a demoralising defeat in the second Test in Nagpur.
Both Dhananjaya and Roshen were not part of that Test and it was a tough call for their team management to drop vice-captain Lahiru Thirimanne in Delhi. But it shows how much Roshen managed to convince the Sri Lankan think-tank about his abilities after 103 first-class outings.
The only instance of drama throughout the day was when skipper Chandimal was bowled off a no-ball on 24. The culprit was Jadeja again but this time, the third umpire penalised him for it.
De Silva flexed his muscles after the lunch break and reached the nervous nineties with a flurry of boundaries, before he started experiencing cramps. But he punched one ball right back past Mohammed Shami to notch up a well-deserved century.
As pain and cramps started to make him feel more uncomfortable, De Silva decided to go on the offensive against the Indian spinners. Ravichandran Ashwin spilled a chance off his own bowling, but couldn’t hold on.
De Silva tried hard to continue till tea, but around 20 minutes before it, his sore back got too much for him to handle. He finally had to limp off the field with the help of team physio, leaving it to Dickwella to save the day for Sri Lanka.
The 23-year-old never looked under any kind of pressure, playing his natural attacking game and sweeping the spinners at every given opportunity.
The only time he looked in trouble was when Wriddhiman Saha missed a regulation stumping. Dickwella was on 32 then, and he went on to ensure that the Indians had to remain content with a solitary win in the series.