Published On: Fri, Jun 8th, 2018

WI stay in command as Chandimal falls just before lunch

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Lunch Sri Lanka 125 for 5 (Dickwella 25*, Perera 4*) trail West Indies 414 for 8 by 289 runs

Third over of the morning, Sri Lanka lost their form batsman. Roshen Silva, who had been prolific across international and domestic cricket since December, was forced back by a series of short balls, before a fuller Kemar Roach delivery wriggled its way between bat and pad to uproot the off stump. Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella then dug in, and set about rebuilding from 43 for 4, but Chandimal left the work unfinished. In the over before lunch, he slashed at a wide Shannon Gabriel delivery and mistimed the ball straight to point.

The early swing had disappeared, and West Indies’ bowlers were not operating with the hostility they had displayed on the second afternoon, but Sri Lanka remained in serious difficulty. They went to lunch at 125 for 5, still 90 runs short of avoiding the follow-on. With Dilruwan Perera now at the crease, West Indies were one wicket away from breaking into the tail.

That Chandimal departed for only 44 after he had worked himself nicely into a rhythm will feel especially wasteful for Sri Lanka. His defence was in good order right through the session, leaving judiciously, and rarely allowing the ball to beat the bat when he did offer a stroke. The timing was there as well. In the 21st over, he played a perfect checked straight drive. There was almost no flourish or follow-through to the stroke, but the ball whizzed past mid-off, and fetched Chandimal a boundary. At other times he steered the ball to the backward point fence, again relying on timing, rather than power. It was only towards the end of the session that he began to open his shoulders a little, and this is what led to his demise. In trying to flay Shannon Gabriel aerially, he managed only to send the ball at a comfortable overhead height to Roston Chase.

Dickwella played one uppish square drive early in his innings, but largely batted with care. He punched a couple of boundaries through cover, but was mostly content to pick up singles into the legside. Even when legspinner Devendra Bishoo came on, he resisted his natural urge to unfurl the more expansive of his sweep shots, using instead the gentle lap sweeps to collect runs through the square leg region. He was 25 off 55 when the session ended. On his shoulders do Sri Lanka’s hopes of a competitive score now rest.

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