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Sri Lanka leads by 287
The Windies bowlers with the exception of Shannon Gabriel lost the plot on day four of the second Sandals Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket ground in St. Lucia yesterday and they have now found themselves in a spot of bother going into the final day today.
Ahead in this Test match for the first three and a half days, two poor sessions could cost the Windies dearly, as only Gabriel with 11 wickets in the match answered the call.
Sri Lanka after making 253 in their first innings closed the day on 334/8 in reply to the Windies 300 in their first effort. It means that they start to play today with a lead of 287 runs with two wickets in hand.
It sets up a thrilling final day but the way play started yesterday, today may not have been a reality. Sri Lanka was reduced to 48 for four, half hour into the day’s play, as Gabriel grabbed two early wickets to add to the one he had on day three and Kemar Roach also accounted for one.
After that, it was all Sri Lanka, as little Kusal Mendis slammed a brilliant 87 to take the game away from the locals. When he was finally dismissed for 87 off 117 balls with eight fours and two sixes, Sri Lanka was already coming out of the forest. Skipper Dinesh Chandimal was the first man to help him, as he scored 39 runs.
With Mendis departure the score read 199 for six, Roshen Silva and Niroshan Dickwella got together to further punish the hosts and added 99 more runs for the seventh wicket. However, in a final burst, West Indies captain Jason Holder took the new ball and Gabriel responded by removing Silva for 48 and Dickwella for 62, both of whom featured in a 99-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Gabriel became the first West Indian to take a 10-wicket haul against the Sri Lankans.
Earlier, Sri Lanka resumed on the bedtime position of 34 for one and the Windies immediately struck by sending back nightwatchman Kasun Rajitha for a duck. Gabriel had him leg before. The big T&T pacer followed up with the scalp of Dhananjaya de Silva for three. He played at a fast delivery down the corridor of uncertainty and edged to Devon Smith at clip.
Pace partner Kemar Roach then got into the act and sent back debutant Michael Udawatte for 19. He played an uppish drive to Devendra Bishoo at mid-off and was on his way. At 43/4 the Sri Lankans were under heavy pressure.
Mendis came in to take the pressure off by counterattacking. He battled bravely against the pacers and was happy to sweep the spinners, as he gathered runs at will. He brought up a half-century in no time and this allowed Chandimal to settle. He was dropped off a no-ball when on 17 and made the Windies pay. When their partnership reached 79, they created a new record for Sri Lanka for the fifth wicket in the Caribbean.
Lunch was taken at 136 for four with Sri Lanka fighting their way back after a two and a half hour morning session. After the break, Roach got Chandimal playing a loose shot outside the off stump for 39 to get the Windies back on track. He faced 112 balls and struck one four.
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