Having arrived at the crease on the first afternoon, with Sri Lanka losing four wickets for 31 runs, de Silva steadied the innings alongside Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, and Dilruwan Perera, with whom he forged 50-plus partnerships. Most impressively, he saw through gloomy conditions on successive days, with Pakistan’s quickest bowlers operating. The floodlights were switched on throughout his stays at the crease on the first, second and third days. He also applied himself despite having to repeatedly start over, given the frequent weather interruptions.
“I think this is my second-best hundred after my first one, definitely,” de Silva said. He has previously also struck a match-saving century in Delhi despite having been seriously affected by the smog during that Test. “It was very tricky in the first few days. All four Pakistan bowlers were brilliant in those conditions. It was very dark and seaming and gloomy. Everything was happening for the bowlers. Playing here and getting a hundred with my name on the honours board – I’m feeling proud about that.”
This is de Silva’s second century in successive matches, after he had also hit a hundred against New Zealand in the second Test in Colombo, back in August. De Silva’s 2019 run aggregate is second only to that of Dimuth Karunaratne. No other Sri Lanka batsman has hit more than one century this year.
“As the match went on it was very easy for me – I saw the ball very well,” de Silva said. “I don’t know why – I got a century back in Sri Lanka too. I think I saw the ball well because I’m in form. On day five it was the best wicket we saw across the five days. It was seaming in the first few days, but there was nothing on the fifth day.”
If de Silva is entering a more consistent phase of his career, it may be because he has finally been given a consistent role in the side. He has batted everywhere from No. 3 to No. 9 for Sri Lanka, but where he averages 35.22 overall, he now has an average of 49.81 from No. 6.
“I’ve now got three centuries at No. 6, so I think it’s a very suitable position for me,” he said. “I’ve batted in the lower order for a little while now, and because my position is settled it becomes easier.
“I have to bowl 10 or 15 overs in a Test innings as well, and it’s tough to do that and also open the innings, or bat at No. 3. No. 6 is generally a spot occupied by someone who bowls as well, and the team can use me as a bowler when I’m down there.”