Thursday, February 29, 2024

Windies-Sri Lanka Test delicately balanced


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GALLE – A couple bits of sharp fielding from West Indies set back Sri Lanka to 46 for two in their second innings after off-spinner Ramesh Mendis triggered another batting collapse from the Caribbean side in the second Test on Wednesday.

After being dismissed for 253 to gain a 49-run, first innings lead, the Windies made the most of 21 overs before the close to remove Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunratne for six and Oshada Fernando for 21 to stay in contention on a rain-free third day of the match at the Galle International Stadium.

A direct hit of the stumps at the bowler’s end from backward point fielder Kyle Mayers sent Karunaratne packing in the second over, as the Sri Lanka skipper tried to steal a single off Roston Chase’s uncomplicated off-spin.

West Indies endured a period of attrition with opener Pathum Nissanka, not out on 21, and Fernando looking relatively comfortable at the crease, and it appeared they would carry the hosts through the rest of the day.

Fortune again smiled on the Windies when Fernando dabbed a delivery from Chase to backward point and embarked on a run, but Nissanka sent him back, and Jermaine Blackwood alertly threw to wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva to complete a second run out.

West Indies were unable to make further headway, and Nissanka and Charith Asalanka, not out on four, batted through almost half-hour until stumps were drawn and put the Sri Lankans within reach of beginning to set the visitors a victory target.

West Indies, looking to win a Test in Sri Lanka for the first time, started the day on 69 for one and looking to overhaul the home team’s first innings total of 204.

Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite anchored the top half of the batting with a top score of 72, Mayers held the bottom half together with 36 not out, Nkrumah Bonner added 35, and Shai Hope with a painstaking 22 carried the fight for the visitors.

But spin again was the undoing of the West Indies batting and off-spinner Ramesh Mendis ended with 6-70 from 34.2 overs to lead the Sri Lankan bowling.

West Indies got through the first hour unscathed, but Bonner was lbw to Mendis in the second hour of the day before Brathwaite and Hope took the Caribbean side to 145 for two at lunch.

After lunch, a period of resistance from the Windies was broken when left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya bowled Brathwaite with a delivery that pitched outside leg, deceived the Barbadian batsman in flight, and spun across him to clip the top of the off-stump.

West Indies were 166 for three, but they lost Chase caught leg-slip for 10, Hope lbw, Jason Holder lbw for four, and da Silva bowled for a first-ball duck – all to Mendis – before they passed 200.

After the Windies passed 200, Kemar Roach was caught at slip for eight to give left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama his second wicket before Mayers and Veerasammy Permaul cobbled together a stand of 38 to extend the lead.

Permaul was bowled for 15 to give Embuldeniya his second scalp and Mendis got Jomel Warrican caught at mid-off for one from a miscued drive to bring the innings to a close.

Summarised scores:

SRI LANKA 204 (Pathum Nissanka 73, Dimuth Karunaratne 42, Angelo Mathews 29, Oshada Fernando 18, Suranga Lakmal 12, Charith Asalanka 10; Veerasammy Permaul 13-3-35-5, Jomel Warrican 4-50) and 46 for two (Pathum Nissanka 21 not out, Oshada Fernando 14).

WEST INDIES 253 (Kraigg Brathwaite 73, Jermaine Blackwood 44, Kyle Mayers 36 not out, Nkrumah Bonner 35, Shai Hope 22, Veerasammy Permaul 15, Roston Chase 10; Ramesh Mendis 34.2-8-70-6, Praveen Jayawickrama 2-59, Lasith Embuldeniya 2-94).



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