Mike Silva took a look at Sri Lanka’s performance against England in the Cricket World Cup and how youngster Lahiru Thirimanne played his socks off to rival the skilled batting of his senior Kumar Sangakkara.
Striding out to the crease facing a tall 300+ total to chase against an Anderson led English bowling attack, Sri Lanka’s batsmen had a real fight on their hands. It wasn’t long before the unflappable cover drive was unleashed, crunching the ball for a boundary, which was ever so needed to settle the ever so fickle Sri Lankan nerves.
It was as text book as a cover drive can get: knee perfectly touching the ground, elbow as high as can be, and before you knew it – the ball didn’t even refuse to be hit, it just accepted its fate as it sailed merrily away to the boundary.
It’s something that Sri Lankan fans have got used to from Sangakkara, but in this instance it was his protégé Lahiru Thirimanne whom earns the plaudits for the sublimely gorgeous shot.
Thirimanne, facing his nemesis Anderson, got his head down, and like his counter part in the England side Joe Root, managed to survive an early chance and capitalized to become his nation’s youngest man to score a century in World Cup Cricket. His batting was textbook, unfurling cover drives left right and centre, with such shots being scattered between his favoured area, behind the wicket, where his deft wrists cut the ball with immense precision. Even the six he struck off a slog sweep was sweet, and probably doesn’t deserve the title ‘slog’ as it was that silken smooth.
At the other end, Kumar Sangakkara was firing on all cylinders, lifting the ball over the infield with ease, pulling like Ponting in his heyday, and as always drawing a moment of awed silence every time his trademark cover drive was graced on the highest of stages.
It was like watching a father and his son batting together, with the father nudging and tapping his way to a solid and unbeaten 139 not out, while his more exuberant partner at the other end ferociously scythed the bowling attack insouciantly for his fastest ODI century.
Thirimanne may have batted like the veteran in this partnership, but it was the batting of the youngster Sangakkara whom truly marshaled the Sri Lankan chase.
Mike Silva, Music Editor