Published On: Sat, Jun 16th, 2018

Lakmal removes Hope in heated morning session

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West Indies 154 for 3 (Smith 60*, Chase 3*, Lakmal 1-20) trail Sri Lanka 253 by 99 runs

There were 31 runs, 12.3 overs, one wicket and one big controversy on the third day of the St Lucia Test. For the longest time, it appeared play might not even happen with Sri Lanka refusing to take the field after being charged with altering the condition of the ball.

The day was meant to start half an hour early. But, as it turned out, there was no cricket for a good two hours, the only activity to entertain the sprinkling of people who had made their way to the ground being a lot of people making a lot of phone calls and everyone else just milling about.

A lot of the pent-up energy – and perhaps some frustration – was released with the very first ball of the day when Lahiru Kumara banged in a bouncer that sailed over opener Devon Smith’s head. Another followed. And one more to complete a hat-trick, which was called no-ball for being the third delivery that rose above the batsman’s shoulder. West Indies had already benefited from five penalty runs with the umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould suspecting Sri Lanka had changed the condition of the ball.

Regardless, Kumara stayed on the attack and struck Shai Hope in the chest with a short ball. There was skill involved as well, with the 21-year old fast bowler mixing his length up in such a way that the batsman kept hanging back, fearing the one that came for his nose and was therefore a sitting duck against the one that came for his toes.

Hope just about saved his stumps from a Kumara yorker but he was not able to survive the shortened session. Sri Lanka’s most experienced bowler Suranga Lakmal produced a back of a length delivery that secured the outside edge and landed safely in the hands of first slip.

Smith, though, was a picture of calm, even if there was one occasion, when Kumara was doling out bouncer after bouncer, that he took strike and then pulled away, almost as if he were making a statement. The umpires had to intervene at that moment, seconds after they had to have a word with wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella for trying to run Smith out when the ball was dead.

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