NORTH SOUND: Determination and good fortune paid off for Sri Lanka’s openers with Lahiru Thirimanne and captain Dimuth Karunaratne taking their team to 93 without loss at lunch after a rain-shortened first session of the last day of the second and final Test against the West Indies and the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Friday.
Karunaratne will resume after lunch on 54 with Thirimanne, who has compiled half-centuries in the three previous innings in the series, on 37.
Set to start the day with 29 runs already on the scoreboard and faced with the challenge of getting 377 for victory, any realistic prospect of engaging in such a daunting chase effectively disappeared when early-morning rain resulted in just over an hour’s play being lost before a ball was bowled.
When play did get underway, West Indies needed early success to keep them interested in pulling off a series-clinching victory following the drawn first Test at the same venue eight days earlier when it was the Caribbean side who batted through the final day to defy the tourists’ victory bid.
Shannon Gabriel should have removed Thirimanne, then on 17, in the course of his second over when a lifting delivery on the body of the left-hander bushed a glove only for wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva to spill the chance having covered ground well down the legside.
Karunaratne, who has endured a terrible series with the bat before this final innings, looked decidedly uncomfortable to the off-spin of Rahkeem Cornwall, the inside edge of his bat saving him on a couple of occasions from concerted leg-before appeals.
Having survived that test, the Sri Lankan skipper brought up a 25th Test half-century with a straight-driven boundary off the part-time spin of Jermaine Blackwood and will be entertaining thoughts, together with the consistent Thirimanne, of getting to three figures in seeking to take their team to safety by the end of the day.
On Thursday for the second time in four years Kraigg Brathwaite missed out on the rare feat of centuries in both innings of a Test when he was dismissed for 85 as the West Indies skipper was again the fulcrum of his team’s second innings effort.
In the second Test of the 2017 series against England at Headingley, Brathwaite scored 134 and 95 as the West Indies achieved a famous victory. Having occupied the crease for eight-and-a-half hours in accumulating 126 out of 354 in the first innings, Brathwaite was more energetic second time around with his team looking to set a declaration.
Nevertheless his five hours at the crease in which he faced 196 balls and struck only four boundaries was again typical of his phlegmatic manner.
Expectations of a declaration when he was bowled by Dushmantha Chameera deep into the final session proved unfounded as the pair of Jason Holder and Joshua da Silva put on 53 unbroken for the fifth wicket when the call finally came.
Holder dominated the scoring with an unbeaten 71.
WEST INDIES (1st Innings) 354 (K.C. Brathwaite 126, R.R.S. Cornwall 73, K.R. Mayers 49; R.A.S. Lakmal 4-94, P.V.D. Chameera 3-69).
SRI LANKA (1st Innings) 258 (H.D.R.L. Thirimanne 55, P. Nissanka 51, L.D. Chandimal 44; K.A.J, Roach 3-58).
WEST INDIES (2nd Innings):
K.C. Brathwaite b Chameera 85
J.D. Campbell c Dickwella b Lakmal 10
J. Blackwood c Dickwella b Chameera 18
K.R. Mayers lbw b Lakmal 55
J.O. Holder not out 71
J. da Silva not out 20
EXTRAS (B-2, LB-12, W-1, NB-6) 21
TOTAL (for four wkts decl, 72.4 overs) 280
BOWLING: Lakmal 14-3-62-2 (2nb); M.V.T. Fernando 12.4-1-49-0 (1nb, 1w); de Silva
28-3-81-0 (3nb); Chameera 18-0-74-2.
SRI LANKA (2nd Innings, overnight 29-0):
H.D.R.L. Thirimanne not out 37
F.D.M. Karunaratne not out 54
EXTRAS (LB-1, NB-1) 2
TOTAL (for no wkt, 34 overs) 93
BOWLING (to-date): Roach 9-1-26-0; Holder
5-2-11-0 (1nb); Cornwall 9-1-20-0; Gabriel 4-2-14-0; Joseph 3-0-12-0; Blackwood 3-1-5-0; Brathwaite 1-0-4-0.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2021