Kusal Mendis slammed his fifth Test century but it wasn’t enough as Sri Lanka slumped to a 226-run defeat against the West Indies on the final day of the first Test at the Queen’s Park Oval on Sunday.
The visitors’ hopes of a famous win ended when Mendis was caught behind for 102 off pacer Shannon Gabriel in the morning session .
Sri Lanka’s hopes of saving the match evaporated when they lost three more wickets in the first session, including two in the final over bowled by off-spinner Roston Chase.
Nightwatchman Lahiru Gamage fell lbw to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for just three after more than an hour’s batting but the main blow came from Chase who dismissed captain Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella in five deliveries.
Chandimal was forced to suspend his innings on Saturday after falling ill. He resumed his innings on Sunday after the dismissal of Mendis and showed no signs of ill-health until Chase tempted him into a heave over midwicket that went to Kraigg Brathwaite at mid-on.
Chandimal was joined in the pavilion by Dickwella as the wicketkeeper was trapped lbw by a quicker delivery from Chase.
Sri Lanka’s resistance ended four overs after lunch as they were bowled out for 226 to lose by as many runs. All-rounder Chase finished with figures of 4-15 while leg-spinner Bishoo took 3-48.
Earlier, Mendis reached three figures as he flicked a ball from West Indies captain Jason Holder to square-leg for his tenth boundary.
All the talk ahead of the highly-anticipated one-off Test has revolved around Afghanistan’s spin-contingent with skipper Asghar Stanikzai going as far as saying that his spinners are better than their Indian counterparts.
However, spin is not the only weapon at the disposal of the Afghans. While the limelight remains on the bowlers such as Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman, we take a look at the Afghanistan batsmen to watch out for.
The 30-year old Afghan skipper is one of the most experienced players in the squad with 86 ODIs, 54 T20Is and 23 first-class matches under his belt.
A proven performer with the bat for Afghanistan, Stanikzai’s average in limited-overs cricket is 22 but there is no denying his importance in Afghanistan’s line-up.
Stanikzai has slammed five tons and three half-centuries in his 23-match first-class career and he has the ability to the play the long innings in the five-day format.
Afghanistan’s version of MS Dhoni, Mohammad Shahzad has been the heartbeat of the side during their remarkable rise in world cricket.
The 30-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman has five centuries to his name in limited-overs international cricket (four in ODIs and one in T20Is) and packs a punch with the bat.
While his reputation as a limited-overs batsman is fearsome, Shahzad is no mug when it comes to first-class cricket. The Afghan averages over 55 in 20 first-class matches and has registered four tons in the format including a highest score of 214 not out.
The 33-year-old is the most experienced man in the Afghanistan squad when it comes to international cricket with 98 ODIs, 63 T20Is and 32 first-class matches under his belt.
While his off-spin will definitely be handy in the Test, Nabi has it in him to make a valuable contribution with the bat too.
He will be tasked with propelling Afghanistan’s middle-order in the Test and has shown that he has the aptitude for red-ball cricket with two centuries in the first-class format.
Ihsanullah might be one of the youngest faces in the batting line-up but in his short career so far, he has shown enough potential.
The 20-year-old has played only 10 ODIs so far for Afghanistan but it is his performances in the longer format that have caught the eye.
Averaging over 50 runs in first-class cricket, Ihsanullah has registered one century and three half-centuries in nine innings so far in the format.
Last year, he starred in a 197-run stand for the second wicket with Rahmat Shah to lead Afghanistan to a victory over UAE in the final of the Intercontinental Cup at Abu Dhabi.
The two arch-rivals and neighbours have gone on to produce some classic encounters over the years with the rivalry being one of the fiercest in the cricketing world.
India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq are two legends of the game who have been involved in many famous battles between the two countries and the former has revealed the respect shown to him by the latter during a recent talk show.
The Indian batting legend recently appeared on an episode of the cricket-based show ‘Walk the Talk’ and recounted a touching incident during one of India’s tours of Pakistan.
According to the ‘Master Blaster’, ahead of a match at Lahore, Inzamam had revealed that his son was a big fan of the India superstar.
Sachin Tendulkar "We had a practice session in Lahore & before we began Inzi brought his son to me & said 'He's a big fan & wants to meet you'. With the rivarly we had & Inzi was Pakistan captain, to say something like this to a player from the other team takes a lot" #Cricket— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) June 9, 2018
“We had a practice session in Lahore and before we began Inzi brought his son to me & said ‘He’s a big fan and wants to meet you’. With the rivalry we had and Inzi was Pakistan captain, to say something like this to a player from the other team takes a lot,” Tendulkar explained during the show.
Both Sachin and Inzamam were titans for their country during their playing days with the former going on to register over 33,000 runs in international cricket, while the latter himself garnered over 20,000 during his illustrious career.
While Inzamam’s son remains a big fan of Tendulkar, the Mumbai-born maestro’s son has followed in the footsteps of his famous father by taking up the game professionally. Arjun Tendulkar was recently selected for the India U19 squad which will tour Sri Lanka in July.