As heavy rain and storms tore through the seaside city of Galle yesterday, its cricket ground came under significant albeit temporary damage. The roof of the make-do grandstand at the Galle International Stadium-erected beside the new pavilion- collapsed under the sheer force of the winds. Fortunately, no spectators were seated in the stand at the time. With Day 2 of the first test between Sri Lanka and Australia delayed by the weather, ground staff had the additional task of clearing the wreckage left behind by the toppled roof.
Play commenced late afternoon as the sun broke through. Dhananjaya de Silva removed Travis Head off his bowling almost immediately to leave Australia precariously placed at 100/4. But tyro Cameron Green joined Usman Khawaja as the duo struck a brisk 57-run partnership. Debutant Jeffrey Vandersay removed the southpaw, courtesy of a sharp catch by Pathum Nissanka at short leg. But the runs continued to flow as gloveman Alex Carey joined hands with Green to stitch together a match-defining partnership. The day closed out with captain Pat Cummins launching Vandersay for a six that landed in the street, skirting the ground.
Day 3 was a brief affair. Despite being dismissed by pacer Asitha Fernando’s early morning burst, the Aussies had a 109-runs cushion. After scoring rapid runs in response, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson reeled the Lankan charge before part-time tweaker Travis Head ran through their middle order with a spell of 4/10 in 2.5 overs. Chasing a meagre 4, David Warner struck a boundary and a six over long-on to seal a comfortable win for the Aussies.
For those in attendance, it is a relief that the match passed off without incident after inclement weather threatened otherwise yesterday. The picturesque ground, located right beside the coast with the Dutch Fort forming an imposing backdrop, was reduced to rubble by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. Rebuilt from scratch in 2007, the ground has witnessed many memorable moments in Sri Lankan crickets. The island nation’s iconic spinner Muttiah Muralitharan played his last game at the Galle ground, claiming eight wickets to reach 800 wickets in a ten-wicket win over neighbours India.