Danushka pushes test claims with rapid knock in Napier

Opener Danushka Gunathilaka has given Sri Lankan cricket its share of headaches in the past 18 months, but those eased a fraction with a timely, rapid knock in their only first test shakedown on Sunday.

The free-scoring left-hander, who was suspended during the July series against South Africa for breaking a team curfew, hit 83 off 77 balls in a rare bright period for the tourists on day two of their three-day match against a New Zealand XI in Napier.

Gunathilaka’s knock against a young development side picked from players not required for Plunket Shield saw Sri Lanka reach 160-2 in their second innings, a lead of just 100 entering the final day at McLean Park.

More importantly it probably ensured Gunathilaka’s spot to partner vice-captain Dimuth Karunaratne in the first test against New Zealand on what’s certain to be a green, bouncy Basin Reserve pitch on Saturday.

More importantly it probably ensured Gunathilaka’s spot to partner vice-captain Dimuth Karunaratne in the first test against New Zealand on what’s certain to be a green, bouncy Basin Reserve pitch on Saturday.

Gunathilaka, meanwhile, needed runs after he was one of five Sri Lankans to score ducks in an embarrassing first innings where they slumped to 88-8 before former skipper Angelo Mathews bailed them out with 128 not out, in a total of 210-9 declared.

The 27-year-old has just six tests for his country, the most recent in their third test defeat to England in Colombo last month when he scored 18 and six.

He’s regularly fallen foul of officialdom, too. Last year ESPNCricinfo reported Gunathilaka was suspended for six limited overs matches for missing a training session, turning up to a match without his gear, and an indifferent attitude towards training during a home series against India.

Sri Lanka’s four-pronged pace attack hardly overpowered their fresh-faced opponents as Northern Districts’ Sandeep Patel topscored with 69 and Katene Clarke chimed in with 46 off 53 balls.

Speedster Dushmantha Chameera, who caught the eye on Sri Lanka’s previous test tour in 2015, had 1-60 off 12 overs. Their two spinners had the most success with Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan each taking two wickets. (Courtesy Stuff)

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