Sri Lanka’s batsmen made a bright start to the tour of South Africa, as Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva hit half-centuries on the first day of the tour match in Potchefstroom. The visitors went to stumps at 328 for the loss of six wickets, against a South Africa Invitation XI consisting of well-heeled first-class players and recent graduates of the Under-19 system.
Especially encouraging for the Sri Lankans was the 159-run unbroken opening stand between Karunaratne and Silva, each of whom has struggled at various points during the course of the year. Both men were retired out at the end of the 45th over, Karunaratne with 71 runs to his name and Silva with 80.
Kusal Perera only hit 25, but his entry at No. 3 suggests the team management is keen for him to resume batting in the top order as he had done for much of the series against Australia. This would also allow Kusal Mendis to come in at second drop. Mendis, who was in good form during the back end of the ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe, hit 10 fours in his 64-ball 51.
Captain Angelo Mathews and vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal, both returning from injury, collected a five-ball duck and 23 respectively, before de Silva ensured the day ended briskly, with five fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 57 off 67.
The Invitation XI’s batting appears its stronger suit, so it may be that a more thorough workout awaits the Sri Lankan bowlers than the batsmen, so far, have got. Left-arm spinner George Linde took 2 for 72 in the course of the day. Seamers Duanne Olivier and Jason Smith took one wicket each. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)