Not many would have thought the first Test between Sri Lanka and New Zealand would go the full five days on a heavily turning Galle track.
It was the start to both team’s World Test Championship campaigns and it was a brilliant Test.
I am deeply disappointed in the cricket family for not showing much interest in this Test and focusing only on the Ashes, which is yes, a great series, but the cricket displayed by the Sri Lankans and New Zealand players was a phenomenal display of proper gritty, fighting, Test match cricket.
Set an unlikely 268 to win the first Test, and having to bat last on a turning track, and knowing New Zealand had three spinners at their disposal, this wasn’t going to be an easy chase.
Sri Lanka’s new captain, Dimuth Karunaratne has had a fantastic start to his captaincy career, having reached his third successive Test win since he has taken over the captaincy. His performances, in terms of captaincy has been exemplary.
Karunaratne has a good technique and a smart head on his shoulders, Sri Lanka were going to need every bit of that in their chase.
Sri Lanka’s openers, Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimmane put on a fantastic opening stand of 161 to set Sri Lanka on course to victory. They looked positive and batted with intent, it was a brilliant innings.
Karunaratne led from the front as he brought up his 9th Test century, with his remarkable 122.
Sri Lanka won the first Test by a convincing 6 wickets and started their World Test Championship off with the full 60 points.
There was some fine batting on show from New Zealand’s batsmen, Ross Taylor’s 86 in the first innings when wickets were falling and the pitch was already, on Day 1, showing signs of turn. BJ Watling’s 77 in the second innings was an excellent showing of how to graft an innings together.
New Zealand showed just how vital lower order runs are to a team’s performance in their 2nd innings, with their last four batsmen of Southee (23), Somerville (40*), Boult (26) and Patel (14) putting on 103 valuable runs.
It was disappointing to hear former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly simply ignoring the quality of Test Cricket that these two fine teams played, in not ideal situations, to say that the Ashes is the only cricket keeping Test Cricket alive, as he tweeted:
The “Ashes” series have kept test cricket alive …. up to rest of the world to raise their standards
How much more can Sri Lanka and New Zealand do to keep the standard of Test Cricket alive?
The second and final Test of the series starts on Thursday 22nd August, at 06:30 SA time.