GALLE: Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis fuelled a Sri Lankan fightback with a maiden five-wicket haul but the West Indies still led by three runs in the second innings at stumps on the third day of the second Test on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka were 46-2 in its second innings at close having conceded a 49-run first innings lead to the visitors, who were bowled out for 253.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne (6) was run out to a brilliant direct hit from Kyle Mayers and Oshada Fernando (14) was also run out after being turned back by non-striker Pathum Nissanka.. Nissanka was batting on 21 with Charith Asalanka on 4.
With Angelo Mathews out with a hamstring injury, losing two early wickets was a massive blow for Sri Lanka. They have never lost a home Test to West Indies.
Earlier, off-spinner Mendis belatedly found his line and length, dismissing Nkrumah Bonner to end his 75-run stand with West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
It broke a two-session drought for Mendis, who then ran through the tourists’ middle order, ending with figures of 6-70 as the West Indies were all out after tea.
The West Indies fell apart against the bounce of the new ball, though Mendis was denied a seventh wicket when wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal dropped Kemar Roach on eight.
Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya dismissed Brathwaite with a ball pitched on leg-stump that turned away sharply from the right-hander to clip the top of off-stump.
The West Indies, who have yet to win a Test match in Sri Lanka, were looking at a decent total and a considerable first-innings lead when they finished on 145-2 at lunch.
Brathwaite’s straightforward footwork and impregnable defence were a vital bulwark for the West Indies after two top-order collapses in the first Test.
The skipper cashed in when loose balls were on offer and was relentless against Sri Lanka’s two left-arm spinners, forcing the hosts to recalibrate to boundary protection.
But the slide started when Brathwaite was dismissed 72.
Mendis had Roston Chase (10) caught at leg slip by Asalanka and trapped Shai Hope (22) lbw.
Jason Holder (4) unsuccessfully reviewed an lbw decision against him because a ball delivered by Mendis appeared to bounce over the stumps. In the next ball, Joshua da Silva played through the wrong line expecting a ball from Mendis to turn more than it did and was bowled. His fall left the West Indies 197-7.
Mayers (36 not out) with Roach ensured that the West Indies took a lead in the first innings and extended it in a 38-run partnership for the ninth wicket with Veerasammy Permaul.
SRI LANKA (1st Innings) 204
WEST INDIES (1st innings; overnight 69-1):
K. Brathwaite b Embuldeniya 72
J. Blackwood lbw b Jayawickrama 44
N. Bonner lbw b Mendis 35
S. Hope lbw b Mendis 22
R. Chase c Asalanka b Mendis 10
K. Mayers not out 36
J. Holder lbw b Mendis 4
J. Da Silva b Mendis 0
K. Roach c de Silva b Jayawickrama 8
V. Permaul b Embuldeniya 15
J. Warrican c sub (Karunaratne) b Mendis 1
EXTRAS (NB-6) 6
TOTAL (all out, 104.2 overs) 253
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-62 (Blackwood), 2-137 (Bonner), 3-166 (Brathwaite), 4-180 (Hope), 5-191 (Chase), 6-197 (Holder), 7-197 (da Silva), 8-208 (Roach), 9-246 (Permaul).
BOWLING: Lakmal 9-3-22-0 (nb 2), Embuldeniya 35-13-94-2 (nb 4), Mendis 34.2-8-70-6, Jayawickrama 25-4-59-2, De Silva 1-0-8-0.
SRI LANKA (2nd Innings):
D. Karunaratne run out (Mayers) 6
Pathum Nissanka not out 21
O. Fernando run out (Blackwood/da Silva) 14
C. Asalanka not out 4
EXTRAS (LB-1) 1
TOTAL (for two wickets, 21 overs) 46
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-7 (Karunaratne), 2-39 (Fernando).
TO BAT: D. de Silva, D. Chandimal, R. Mendis, S. Lakmal, L. Embuldeniya, P. Jayawickrama, A. Mathews.
BOWLING (to-date): Permaul 9-2-20-0, Chase 5-1-8-0, Warrican 7-1-17-0.
Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021