Sri Lanka Under-19 needed a special effort from their batsmen to remain alive in their four-day match against India Under-19, and on the third day of the match on Thursday (July 25), they got just that at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. Kavindu Kulasekara, not out on 5 overnight, was immovable, and his patient vigil at the crease took Sri Lanka to 235 for 5 from 104 overs at close of play, still trailing India by 268 runs.
Only 211 runs were scored on the day off 88 overs, but crucially for Sri Lanka, they lost only four wickets.
Kulasekara remained unbeaten on 76, having consumed 264 balls, even as Kuldeep Yadav, the India left-arm spinner, bowled tirelessly for figures of 4 for 86 in 33 overs. However, no other Indian bowler could make a breakthrough on the day, and with Kulasekara finding good support from Minod Bhanuka (56 off 100), Sri Lanka moved a step closer towards avoiding outright defeat. While the possibility of Sri Lanka overtaking India’s first-innings score of 503 for 7 declared is remote, the staunch resistance shown will give them heart.
Sri Lanka began the day on 24 for 1, and came out intent on preserving wickets. Hashan Dumindu, the other overnight batsman, and Kulasekara stretched their second-wicket association to 76 runs, before Kuldeep had Dumindu caught by Shubham Khajuria with the score on 91. However, the breakthrough came only after the Sri Lankan duo batted together for 33.5 overs in the morning and 42.3 overs overall.
While Kuldeep castled Sadeera Samarawickrama fairly soon, the fourth-wicket stand ensured there was no dramatic collapse for Sri Lanka from 115 for 3. Bhanuka and Kulasekara put on 82, and though the runs came at a faster clip than earlier in the day, they still batted for the length of a session, with the partnership lasting 29.4 overs.
Kuldeep once again struck twice in quick succession, but India couldn’t get the key wicket of Kulasekara, who remained undefeated with Ramesh Mendis (14 not out) for company.