Australians on top in Kandy

DAY 1 AT KANDY

Pallekele is a wonderful cricket ground in fact I would go further and say it is one of the most beautiful grounds in the world.

A word of warning though.  I hope that they do not build pavilions all the way round the perimeter and so destroy the wonderful views of the mountains around.  Let us hope we do not have an Adelaide Oval situation

The ground has been purpose built in to a hillside and is surrounded by a variety of flora that includes palm trees and local species that bloom in the spring.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the infrastructure is the size of the media centre.  It is four stories high and can cater for up to 200 correspondents.  If you compare it with say, the MCG, you would be sitting in the top deck of the great southern Stand. It is enormous and certainly gives the throng a bird’s eye view of everything including those wonderful mountains that cut into the skyline under the haze that does create a veil.

The ground was constructed for the World Cup and has been in operation for just over two years,

One of the criteria for the ground being constructed was that it had to contain a press box capable of holding “x’ amount of media area.  No doubt the main reason being for one day and 20/20 frolics.  One could say the whole thing is out of perspective.

What is impressive to old farts like me are the grass sitting areas on either side of the wicket ala Sydney of old and Adelaide

Dilshan won the toss and batted, no hesitation.

Harris fresh from his effort in Galle took the first wicket a straight forward catch to Haddin by Para.

His second duck for the series.

Harris is causing some concerns and Copeland is tight

Copes strikes with a beauty to Dilshan who shoulders  arms and is bowled 2/9.

There does not seem to be a concern amongst the Sri Lankans in this early part of the day.  Mind you Harris is bowling superbly and beats the bat time and time again.

Already the crowd have moved into the shade of the scoreboard and it only 10.301is.

10.31am Copeland strikes again when old man Hussey dives and magnificently catches Mahela for four 3/14. Fiona will be excommunicated from the families viewing area if this keeps up!

It has been a wonderful opening spell from the Aussie quicks.

Thilan plays with authority as he straight drives Harris for four.  A positive moment for the home side.

The crowd would be lucky to number one thousand at this stage with the majority of them being school boys all dressed in white.  Wonder what lesson it is is day? A field excursion perhaps?

Watson on for Harris and the lone piper says” come on Wato” after the first 45 minutes calling “come on Ryno”.  Such command of the English language.  What about “bowled Shane” as an alternative?

With our embarrassing “Oi, Oi, OI”  emanating at most sporting events  our entire sporting language consists in words ending in “o” or only consisting of two syllables.

Sanga cuts Copes with authority. The first positive shot from the angular Bathurstian.

Seven solid overs (2/17) from Copeland in the opening stanza and at drinks Sri Lanka  3/35.

The security (police) entourage must be costing the SL cricket association a packet.  No wonder they are bereft of funds.  There is an officer stationed every 20 metres outside the boundary fence, five guarding the Australian team entrance to the ground and numerous others in positions around the pavilion and the Media centre.  I reckon there is one security person for every ten people in the ground

Sri Lanka is consolidating and at last there are two batsmen who are prepared to dig in.  Clarke keeps rotating his bowlers to keep the batsmen guessing – good captaincy.

Sanga clips Johnson for four past square legs to bring up the 50 in 94 minutes.  A cover drive two balls later is a delightful shot.

A bad miss by Watson of Sanga is short lived as Harris snags Thilan caught behind  4/57.

The Kandurata Province Cricket Center (their spelling) sits outside the ground but there is little work being done as the staff can be seen sitting outside the door enjoying the game.  One can see everything from this marvellous media centre. The changing colour of the mountains, the number of people coming into the ground, the number of people getting a free view.  It’s all there for us to see.

Prassana J took to Lyon’s opening over taking him for a six and four and then he lofted him straight into the hands of Harris.   5/76  Lyon 1/12

A maiden from Harris and it is lunch.   Great session from the new look Australians with some very fine bowling from both Harris and Copeland and a splendid catch from Hussey.

Spend most of lunch time walking the boundary with SIDS who has just completed a fitness routine that has left him lathered in sweat.  All he wants to do is talk about is the footy scene and who is going to GWS.  Loves his footy and I bet that there is wishful thinking that I wouldn’t mind some of that loot the GWS boys are getting.

Great application by the two batsmen after lunch Sanga and Angelo decided to put their respective heads down and concentrate.  Not a semblance of a chance to drinks.  Solid grafting.

Clarke brings on Hussey – wicket!! Sanga (48) lazily plays to Hughes 6/128.

“Clarke is a genius” shouts the press box. He certainly leaves no stone unturned in keeping the batsmen guessing.

The mist on the far mountains starts to close in and I wonder whether it will interfere with the day’s play late in the afternoon.

Lyon catches Randiv(4) of his own bowling.  A lazy shot 7/133

I think I must be watching “In Melbourne Tonight” the ravens (crows)are making one hell of a noise but it helps Harris as he comprehensively bowls Prasanna.  8/150. Graham Kennedy was brilliant and shades of Dud and Pete teaching ravens to fly under water.

At tea Sri Lanka 8/150 with Australia taking the honours in that session after a gritty first part by the Lions.  Mathews 43n.o

They have an interesting way of selling beer here in Kandy a waiter goes around with a tray with six holes that a full glass is deposited in.  His job is then to go round and try and sell them to the assembled throng.  Sales would be down today as there is a very poor crowd in attendance.

With the ground some 30 minutes out of Kandy itself it is certainly difficult for the locals to get to the game.  One wonders what the future holds for test cricket in some of these countries with attendances as poor as what they are today.

In fact I would be bold enough to suggest that there are more Australians here than locals.

Mathews reaches his second fifty of the series with a slog drive of Harris that clears the ropes.

He is now on the attack with only two rabbits left.

The attack is short lived as he swings at Johnson and is taken by a diving Haddin. A good knock of 58

The Lions 166 Christians 9

The final pair flays away too little avail and Copes catches Chanaku of Johnson.  All out 174

Harris 3/38 and Copeland 2/24 the best of the Australian bowlers

Watson and Hughes open.  Both need runs.

Watson cuts and square drives in the second over 8 runs. Things look ominous with 22 overs left in the days play.

Hughes drives four more, Watson again although it is not consistent they are playing some lovely shots.

Welcome to Test cricket Prasanna as Watson pulls him square. The young leg spinner has a big task in front of him.

A big debate in the media centre when a review is called by the Lions against Watson. The journos’ love the game.

Spin at both ends with the skipper coming on.

Only two changes at the Cats while the Hawks make eight.  Scotty goes with form rather than experience with Milburn and Mooney both missing out.

Watson (36) and Hughes (23) continue on their way having little trouble from the Lion spinners.

A mist is descending on to the ground blocking out the sun. The umpires consider the light.

The players leave in light that appears fine for play particularly when you consider that the slows are on.  Some times this work safety issue is taken a little too far and this is one of them.

Certainly looks like the end of the day with Australia 0/60 in a very sound position and looking to consolidate on day 2.

We now look forward to solid batting tomorrow.

ENDS

About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.

Comments

  1. Great second day Bob.
    Marsh showed how the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
    Ordinary shot by Clarke but overall outstanding…as is FOX2 (Greig a struggle until you go to McAvaney!!)

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