Buoyed by a quicker pitch with some live grass on it, West Indies’ three-pronged pace attack made light work of Sri Lanka’s top order before debutant left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican claimed four wickets to wrap up the Sri Lankan innings at 200, two hours into the final session on the first day at the P Sara Oval.
In response, the visitors lost Shai Hope lbw to Dhammika Prasad in the first over but Kraigg Brathwaite and nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo hung around before deteriorating light forced stumps.
Jerome Taylor had woken up a groin niggle but passed a fitness test and consistently hit speeds above 140kph. He struck with his fourth ball – a beauty that angled in and curved away, leaving Kaushal Silva prodding and edging to the wicketkeeper. West Indies reviewed and the third umpire Marias Erasmus decided there was enough evidence to overturn umpire Rod Tucker’s on-field decision of not out. Silva was out for a duck and his lean patch was extended – he had failed to build on a start in the first Test against West Indies after managing only 87 in six innings against India.
That wicket proved a scene-setter and each of the West Indies’ fast bowlers got extra bounce and zip before Warrican took over. Milinda Siriwardana, playing his second Test, scored his maiden fifty in the format, and Rangana Herath, promoted to vice-captaincy after Lahiru Thirimanne was left out, indulged in hacks and hooks to avoid a total wipe out.
The morning session was packed with action, containing as many as five reviews. West Indies’ second review, coming after the Silva wicket, was also successful, and accounted for 20-year old Kusal Mendis for an edgy 13 on Test debut. Mendis had wafted at a Kemar Roach ball that straightened a touch and nicked behind.
Jason Holder’s first dismissal – West Indies’ second of the morning – had also involved a review. He had Dimuth Karunaratne lbw for 13 in his second over; Sri Lanka’s review going in vain this time. The quicks rattled the batsmen and beat the outside edge regularly and reduced Sri Lanka to 59 for 4, six minutes before lunch. The session ended with West Indies bowling coach Curtly Ambrose welcoming his bowlers with warm applause.
Siriwardana helped Sri Lanka recover briefly, adding 31 and 37 with Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Perera respectively. With Siriwardana joining hands with another left-handed batsman in Kusal, West Indies’ premier spinner Bishoo was held back. He had come into the attack only after 36 overs in the Galle Test. Today, he came in after 46 overs.
Siriwardana was assured in defence and cashed in when fed with width. He carved Holder over covers, eased Taylor past the same region, and slashed Warrican behind point. He pushed on to bring up his fifty off 76 balls by dancing out and launching a straight six. He had a life when he was shelled at square leg on 63 but added only five more to his tally before he miscued Warrican into Taylor’s lap at long-off.
Warrican began with a half-tracker, which was dispatched by Mathews to the point boundary with a strong cut. He settled down quickly, and twirled away in an uninterrupted 14-over spell after lunch. His reward came off a bad ball: Kusal Perera stepped out and spooned a return catch off a full toss, becoming Warrican’s maiden Test victim. Having received his Test cap from Garry Sobers, it turned out to a happy day for Warrican.
West Indies, who had spilled five catches to add to a sixth chance that was not attempted in the first Test, lifted themselves significantly on the field, with the only blip being the Siriwardana drop. Marlon Samuels made a diving save at backward point while Holder threw himself around mid-off.
(Taken from ESPN Sports Media Ltd.)