Galle: Rangana Herath piled on the agony for the West Indies by removing both openers cheaply to leave the visitors struggling at 66-2 at stumps on the second day of the first Test Thursday, still 418 runs behind Sri Lanka.
Rangana Herath. Pic/AFP
After a record stand of 238 by Sri Lankan batsman Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal, veteran spinner Herath turned the screws on the West Indies by dismissing Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope in quick succession. The 37-year-old, who has hinted he may retire next year, took a match-winning seven wickets against India in his last Test in Galle and he will be key to Sri Lanka's prospects of notching up another victory in a match that forecasters say could be threatened by rain.
The visitors' hopes of saving the match now lie in the hands of two of their most experienced batsmen, Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels, who were unbeaten at the close with 15 and seven respectively. Brathwaite was the first to fall, trapped leg before wicket for 19 in Herath's second over. He almost perished in Herath's first over but made a successful review after umpire Richard Illingworth had ruled him lbw.
Hope had been enjoying himself against Sri Lanka's new ball attack of Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep whom he clouted for three boundaries in his opening over. But he was sent packing after scoring 23 when he was bowled by Herath, the ball clipping off stump after turning past the batsman's outside edge.
The late wickets put the hosts firmly back in control of the match after the loss of their last five wickets for just 36 runs had threatened to undo some of the work of Karunaratne and Chandimal. Sri Lanka were all out for 484. The left-handed Karunaratne batted for 482 minutes in a marathon effort to score 186 before tamely holing out to part-time West Indies bowler Marlon Samuels.
It was a Test best for the 27-year-old who faced 354 balls, with 16 fours and one six. Chandimal was in similarly imperious form, hitting sixteen fours and two sixes in his innings of 151 -- his second hundred at Galle in as many matches following his 162 against India in the previous outing. He was finally dismissed by Jerome Taylor, caught by Jermaine Blackwood as he drove uppishly to extra cover.
Chandimal, under pressure to deliver after the retirements of Sri Lanka's star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, said the team had to press home their advantage and not let the West Indies off the hook. "Our target was 500, but a middle order collapse upset our plans. Still we hope to force the West Indies to follow on to record an innings win," he said after play had finished for the day.
Sri Lanka had appeared on course to score well over 500. But skipper Angelo Mathews' dismissal off the bowling of his opposite number Jason Holder after a brisk 48, sparked a surprise lower order collapse. Much of the damage was wreaked by leg spinner Devendra Bishoo who took three lower order wickets to finish with
figures of 4 for 143 in a marathon 40 over spell.
Bishoo was disappointed not to have taken several more wickets and said the visitors "could have done better" while insisting that they were far from out of the match. "We have to bat smart, take one session at a time, try and set the score board moving," he said. "Stick to to basics and enjoy every moment." Jerome Taylor was the pick of the West Indies' fast bowlers, taking 2 for 65 in hot and humid conditions on Sri Lanka's southern coast.