GALLE – West Indies avoided falling for a historic low total, but they were still in danger of another humiliating defeat after they crumbled to 52 for six in their second innings against Sri Lanka in the first Test on Wednesday.
Nkrumah Bonner, not out on 18, and Joshua da Silva, not out on 15, saved the Windies from embarrassment after they spectacularly collapsed to 18 for six, chasing a highly improbable, if not impossible 348 for victory.
Bonner and da Silva batted through until conditions again offered West Indies a welcomed reprieve and bad light stopped play early on the fourth day of the match at the Galle International Stadium.
Bonner and da Silva were the only Windies batsmen to reach double digits and averted the calamity of the visitors falling for less than the record Test low of 47 against England 17 years ago at Sabina Park in the Jamaica capital of Kingston.
“Everyone is disappointed in the dressing room,” Bonner said after play. “But then, it’s up to me and Josh to get the job done.
“We have about 640 balls to bat. We want to play each ball on merit and respect the bowlers… It’s a simple plan – bat as much as possible (on Thursday).”
Spin, the everlasting bugbear of West Indies batsmen, once again cruelly exposed the fragility of their batting with Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne employing only spinners in the 25.3 overs possible.
Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis ravaged the Windies batting, taking a flattering 4-17 from 11 overs, and left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya grabbed 2-18 from 11 overs.
This unfolded after a lacklustre effort in the field from West Indies, and the hosts charged unfettered to 191 for four declared in their second innings.
The Windies bowlers came under attack, as Karunaratne followed up his first innings hundred with an enterprising 83 and veteran Angelo Mathews cracked 69 in a third wicket stand of 123.
Either side of their defiance, West Indies spin duo of Jomel Warrican and Rahkeem Cornwall bagged two wickets apiece.
Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite then fell lbw to Mendis for his 15th duck in Tests in the fourth over before his side reached double figures.
West Indies were 11 for one when their vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood was caught at mid-on for nine off Embuldeniya, trying to release the pressure and played an ill-advised pull.
In a twinkling, the Barbados Pride quartet of Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Kyle Mayers, and Jason Holder fell for the addition of four runs in the span of 15 balls to the vagaries of the untrustworthy pitch.
Hope was bowled by Mendis for three and Chase was bowled by Embuldeniya for one before Mendis trapped Mayers lbw for two and bowled World No.1 Test all-rounder Holder off successive deliveries.
Da Silva walked in to face the hat-trick ball, but Mendis speared the ball down the leg-side, and the Windies wicketkeeper/batsman and Bonner batted for a little over 45 minutes to enable the Caribbean side to battle for another day.
Earlier, West Indies added only six to their overnight total before left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama snared the last wicket of Shannon Gabriel lbw for two and the visitors were bowled out for 230 in their first innings, conceding a lead of 156.
Jayawickrama was the most successful Sri Lanka bowler with 4-40 from 19.5 overs.
SRI LANKA 286 (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) and 191 for four declared (Dimuth Karunaratne 83, Angelo Mathews 69, Oshada Fernando 14, Dinesh Chandimal 10 not out; Jomel Warrican 2-42, Rahkeem Cornwall 2-60).
WEST INDIES 230 (Kyle Mayers 45, Kraigg Brathwaite 41, Rahkeem Cornwall 39, Jason Holder 36, Jermaine Blackwood 20, Joshua da Silva 15 not out, Shai Hope 10; Praveen Jayawickrama 4-40, Ramesh Mendis 3-75) and 52 for six (Nkrumah Bonner 18 not out, Joshua da Silva 15 not out; Ramesh Mendis 4-17, Lasith Embuldeniya 2-18).