Published On: Fri, Jun 15th, 2018

West Indies make steady progress despite belligerent bowling

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Lunch West Indies 65 for 1 (D Smith 29*, Powell 3*, Rajitha 1-18) trail Sri Lanka 253 by 188 runs

Sri Lanka’s seamers repeatedly beat the West Indies openers’ bats. They tested them with full deliveries and length balls, raising several lbw appeals. Eventually Kraigg Brathwaite got out, offering a feather edge to the wicketkeeper to give Kasun Rajitha his maiden Test wicket. But in the meantime, they had also scored runs – if a little slowly. By lunch on day two, West Indies were 65 for 1, only 188 runs behind Sri Lanka.

The visiting seamers will perhaps consider themselves a little unfortunate. Lahiru Kumara was menacing when he pitched just short of a length, having the ball rear up off the surface, almost as well as Shannon Gabriel had done on the first day. He had even jagged one into Brathwaite and struck him just about above the knee roll on the first ball of his second over, but because the on-field decision had been”not out”, Sri Lanka’s review was unsuccessful – the ball projected only to clip the very top of middle stump. So disciplined had Sri Lanka’s quicks been, that the first boundary of West Indies’ innings, did not come until the 100th ball, bowled by Kumara.

Earlier in the session, Suranga Lakmal had also delivered a probing new-ball spell, but really, it was no surprise that it was Rajitha who made the breakthrough. Although on debut, he had the ball moving either way off the seam – the skill with which he piqued the national selectors’ interest in the first place. He seamed the ball past both openers’ outside edge on several occasions, before shortly before lunch, Brathwaite edged an away-seamer, which wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella pouched safely. Brathwaite reviewed, perhaps unaware that he had hit that ball, but replays suggested he had got a thin edge to the ball.

Spinner Akila Dananjaya was the most expensive of Sri Lanka’s bowlers, though still, he has only conceded runs at 2.83 in the innings. All up, West Indies have hit only three fours and a six in this innings, and of those, all but one boundary has come off Dananjaya. The spinner did find the occasional turn on this surface, however, suggesting he could yet become a difficult proposition as this pitch continues to wear.

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