GALLE – West Indies failed to master the spin bowling trio of Sri Lanka and were in deep trouble in the first Test on Monday.
Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has so far hit the top score of 41, Kyle Mayers was not out on 22, and Jermaine Blackwood made 20, as the Caribbean side crumbled to 113 for six, in reply to the Sri Lankans’ first innings total of 386, at the close on the second day of the match at the Galle International Stadium.
Brathwaite and his deputy Blackwood, promoted to open the batting because Jeremy Solozano was confirmed with a concussion, defied the Sri Lanka new-ball pair of Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera to share 46 for the first wicket.
But the West Indies batting started to unravel once Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne turned to his spin bowlers.
Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis claimed 3-23 from six overs before the end of the day, and the left-arm orthodox duo of Praveen Jayawickrama and Lasith Embuldeniya shared the other three scalps between them.
Blackwood was lbw to Embuldeniya, playing defensively forward and across a well-pitched delivery, and Jayawickrama got Nkrumah Bonner caught at first slip for one off the gloves.
Shai Hope, the concussion replacement for Solozano, came to the crease and offered a period of resistance with Brathwaite, whose dismissal triggered a slump that led to three wickets falling for six runs in the space of 30 balls.
Brathwaite was caught at leg slip off the last ball of Mendis’ first over, and Hope made 10 before he turned the first ball of the off-spinner’s next over to forward short leg.
West Indies were 83 for four and sent Jomel Warrican out to play the night watchman’s role with the close drawing nigh.
This proved an ill-considered decision, as the Windies left-arm spinner was caught behind for one off Jayawickrama three overs later, sinking the visitors to 86 for five.
Roston Chase, whose 5-83 from 28.5 overs made him the West Indies bowling hero earlier in the day, arrived and inched the Caribbean side to the 100-run mark before he too, was caught at short leg off Mendis for two.
Jason Holder, not out on one, and Mayers batted through two more overs until the close and will be the main hopes for the Windies to reach the follow-on target of 187 and significantly cut the current deficit of 273.
Earlier, West Indies, led by Chase, bowled with purpose to bring themselves back into the match after Sri Lanka continued from their overnight total of 267 for three.
The Windies fortuitously claimed the first wicket of the day, when Gabriel got Dhananjaya de Silva hit wicket for 61, after the batsman played a delivery, the ball bounced back towards the stumps, and he tried to knock it away twice, but dislodged the bails instead.
This followed a stand of 111 between de Silva and Karunaratne, whose top score of 147 ended when Joshua da Silva completed a smart stumping off Chase five overs later.
Warrican, who was wicketless on the first day, ended with 3-87 from 32 overs, scalping his wickets in a period of an hour either side of lunch before Chase removed Dinesh Chandimal for 45 and Embuldeniya for 17 to bring the innings to a close about 40 minutes before tea.
SRI LANKA 386 (Dimuth Karunaratne 147, Dhananjaya de Silva 61, Pathum Nissanka 56, Dinesh Chandimal 45, Lasith Embuldeniya 17, Ramesh Mendis 13, Suranga Lakmal 11; Roston Chase 28.5-3-83-5, Jomel Warrican 3-87, Shannon Gabriel 2-69).
WEST INDIES 113 for six (Kraigg Brathwaite 41, Kyle Mayers 22 not out, Jermaine Blackwood 20, Shai Hope 10; Ramesh Mendis 3-23, Praveen Jayawickrama 2-25).