Roshen Silva innings shows Test mindset, says Dimuth Karunaratne

Roshen Silva pulls through the leg side
Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Pallekele November 15, 2018

On a big-turning pitch such as this, Roshen Silva has shown he has what it takes to succeed. So said team-mate Dimuth Karunaratne, whose 63 was second only to the immense 85 off 174 deliveries that Roshen produced on day two, which pushed Sri Lanka 46 runs beyond England's first-innings total of 290.

Silva had battled through a tough period after lunch, seeing out a testing spell from legspinner Adil Rashid, before settling into a rhythm of picking up runs into the outfield. Unlike several other batsmen, Silva did not sweep, choosing instead to score his runs via the cut, pull, drive as well as flicks off his pads. He backed his strengths, Karunaratne added, and settled on a method that worked for him, as he had done during last year's Test in Delhi where he scored 74 not out helping Sri Lanka save that match.

"Roshen is a good player of spin, and we saw that in Delhi where he played well against Jadeja and Ashwin," Karunaratne said. "He has one or two options and that he can use them his advantage. On a turner like this he can take the option of rotating the strike, instead of going for big shots.

"When Roshen bats and he rotates the strike like that, it's difficult for a bowler to bowl on one spot. When Akila Dananjaya and Roshen were batting, England found it difficult to bowl. That is the importance of having a player like Roshen."

The pair had played together as teenagers for St. Joseph's College in Colombo, and Karunaratne added that Silva's methods had not changed much since those days. "His success from school until now - and for him to perform well in domestic cricket also - is because he has a good mindset," he said.

Silva was especially impressive in partnership with the tail, which had bailed Sri Lanka out of a precarious situation. With Nos. 9, 10 and 11, he put on partnerships worth 41, 56 and 28 respectively, placing Sri Lanka in a position of some strength when they had seemed likely to concede a significant first-innings lead. England had to bat out one over at the end of the day, and went to stumps unscathed.

"Getting a lead of 46 is a big advantage to us against their spinners when it comes to the fourth innings," Karunaratne said. "Tomorrow if we can get a couple of wickets before they erase the deficit, we will be in a good position, so that is our plan. We have to reduce their boundary options and allow them to score only singles because they scored in boundaries in fours and sixes in the first innings. That is what they did to overcome the spin. They are going for big shots, and we are trying to play with their patience."

Karunaratne's own innings came to an end via a run-out, with Ben Stokes swooping in from cover to throw down the stumps at the strikers' end, after Dhananjaya de Silva had called for a quick single. The pair had put on 96 together and seemed to be well set for big innings, but that dismissal set in motion a mini-collapse that would cost Sri Lanka four wickets for 38 runs.

"At that time me and Dhananjaya batted really well, and they had no clue how to get a wicket. We didn't want to give a wicket away but it happened. Dhananjaya was getting close to a fifty, and i wanted to give him one, so that's why I ran. Next time we will study the fielder before taking that run. Ben Stokes has a strong arm, so we'll be cautious."

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