Cricket; Victoria picked a 31-year-old Sri Lankan leg-spinner Rowantha Kellepotha

A decision to rest Test quick Scott Boland in line with a request from national selectors to keep him fresh ahead of a big international summer hit Victoria hard before a special moment in the clash against Western Australia in Melbourne.

Boland, who started his season in Victoria’s opening Sheffield Shield clash, will play the next two games for the Vics ahead of likely inclusion for the Australian squad which will play Tests against the West Indies and South Africa this summer.

In his absence the Victorian attack included 31-year-old leg-spinner Rowantha Kellepotha, who last played first-class cricket in Sri Lanka in 2013, and became the first international player since Fawad Ahmed to play with the Vics.

The WA batsmen took advantage of the relatively inexperienced local attack as former Test opener Cameron Bancroft collected his 20th first-class century in a dominant display.

But then Bancroft, who played the last of his 10 Tests during the 2019 Ashes in England, became Kallaoptha’s first wicket, stumped for an even 100 four balls after reaching his century.

The visitors remained on top at stumps but after Teague Wyllie, who became the youngest player in over 30 years to score a Shield century in his last game, made 49 and Sam Whiteman 82, the Vics reeled them in late and WA was 5-290.

Before play began at the Junction Oval, Kellapotha was presented with his new Victorian cap, back in first class cricket nearly a decade after the last of his 20 matches in Sri Lanka.

The leg-spinner moved to Australia 10 years ago and after playing suburban cricket with clubs including Berwick, found his way to premier club Casey-South Melbourne last summer.

He’s already earned a Big Bash deal as an overseas replacement player for Melbourne Renegades for the coming season and now has a wicket for Victoria.

Kellapotha, who also has a first-class century with the bat, dominated his first season of premier cricket, topping the wicket tally with 37 at an average of just under 16 to lead Casey to a grand final appearance in March, which put him on the radar of state selectors.

“He’s been selected off what he’s been doing in premier cricket,” Victorian captain Peter Handscomb said of the first-gamer.

“He’s averaging 16 with the ball with is impressive for a leg-spinner. It’s just backing him in.”

The match at the Junction Oval also marked the red-ball return of former Test quick Jhye Richardson for the first time since the second Ashes Test in Adelaide last December.

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