Sri Lanka four wickets away from victory
Sri Lanka was in a commanding position with just four wickets away from a win having reduced West Indies in deep trouble to 52 for six wickets as bad light stopped play to finish the fourth day’s play of the first Test played at Galle International Cricket Stadium yesterday. West Indies is still required 196 runs to win with four wickets in hand on the final day. The weather could be the deciding factor today.
Once again Sri Lankan spinners were leading the way to struggle opponents and off-spinner, Ramesh Mendis came to the front with 4 for 17 while leg spinner Lasith Embuldeniya made a good supporting role with 2 for 18. Embuldeniya and Mendis started with the new ball from two ends and West Indies openers Kreigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood were under pressure from the beginning. Mendis struck early for Sri Lanka with skipper Brathwaite making the long walk back for a duck which began a steady procession of wickets. Blackwood was survived after he was dropped at slips but he didn’t make much of the reprieve as Angelo Matthews completed a good low catch at mid-on three balls later and that was Embuldeniya’s first wicket of the second innings.
Mendis was on a hat trick in his next over (12th over of the innings) with Kyle Mayers and experience Jason Holder being dismissed off two consecutive balls. Holder was clean bowled by Mendis while West Indies were 18 for six wickets at this stage. However, Nkrumah Bonner (18) and Joshua Da Silva (15) played fighting innings ensured no more wickets fall on the day as they shared an unbroken 34 runs for the seventh wicket before bad light forced umpires to call it a day with 15.3 overs to spare.
Off Spinner Rahkeem Cornwall made an early breakthrough to get two quick wickets of Pathum Nissanka (3) and Oshada Fernando (14) in Sri Lanka’s second innings. However, Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews looked in good nick, growing in confidence to adding 123 runs third-wicket stand to get a challenging total. Karunaratne once more top-scored for Sri Lanka with a 104-ball 83, in what was his sixth straight 50-plus score in Tests. He has crossed 50 seven times this year in seven Tests and gone on to reach three figures five times, including the career-best 244 against Bangladesh in Pallekele last April. He, however, fell short of making back-to-back centuries in this Test, edging a cut-off Cornwall that looped to first slip Blackwood via the keeper’s gloves. Matthews made an unbeaten 69 84 balls hit Six fours and two sixes
The day is special for young leg spinner Praveen Jayawickrama who took 4 for 40 in the first innings and became the first left-arm spinner to take 4+ wickets in each of his first three innings of his Test career. He took 6/ 92 and 5/ 86 against Bangladesh debut Test at Pallekele followed by yesterday 4/ 40. The only other left-arm spinner with 4+ wickets in his first two innings was Pakistan’s Abdur Rehman in 2007.