TEST: Smith and Kumara shine on rain-hit day
SUMMARY: West Indies 118-2 (D Smith 53*, Rajitha 1-25) trail Sri Lanka 253 by 135 runs
Lahiru Kumara delivered 13.3 hostile overs, and Kasun Rajitha was probing on Test debut, but a half-century from Devon Smith drove West Indies forward on a rain-hit second day. They stand only 135 runs behind Sri Lanka, with eight wickets still in hand.
Only 42.3 overs were delivered in the day, the rain arriving during lunch to wash out much of the afternoon and evening sessions, before stumps were eventually drawn due to bad light at 17:55h.
Smith was measured for much of the day, hitting only four fours (two of which were edges past the slip cordon) and a six in his 53 not out off 134 balls. He had his outside edge beaten on plenty of occasions, even though the last few overs of the day, but he did enough to survive, and did not miss out when genuinely poor balls were on offer.
The half-century is his seventh overall, and his first since April 2015. Smith was especially strong on the leg side in this innings, once advancing to launch Akila Dananjaya over long on for six.
Kumara, perhaps, will consider himself unlucky for having only collected figures of 1-48. He troubled each of the four West Indies batsmen who came to the crease on day two, often surprising them with the bounce and pace he generated.
He touched 145kph on occasion, generally aiming at the batsmen’s ribs. His breakthrough came very late in the day – Kusal Mendis diving to his right from second slip to complete an excellent low take off Kieran Powell, who had attempted to drive that ball.
In the first session, Kumara could easily have had Kraigg Brathwaite lbw, with a ball that jagged in from well outside off stump. The ball had hit Brathwaite above the knee-roll though, and umpire Aleem Dar felt it was probably going over the stumps.
Rajitha was not quite so aggressive, but there was obviously skill to the manner in which he operated. He moved the ball both ways off the pitch, and frequently went looking for that edge, his length often full and his line always testing.
He had made the first breakthrough, shortly before lunch. Angling a ball in at Brathwaite, Rajitha got it to straighten just a fraction. The result was a feather edge to the wicketkeeper – that touch so light that Brathwaite even reviewed believing he had not hit the ball. DRS disagreed, however. Brathwaite was out for 22 off 79 balls, having gritted his way through almost the entire first session.
So disciplined had Sri Lanka’s quicks been in the first session that West Indies made only 63 runs in 25 overs. The scoring rate increased after the first extended rain break, but went south again in the final 6.2-over stretch of play.
Encouragingly for Sri Lanka, there was decent turn for their off-spinner Dananjaya on day two. Nevertheless, West Indies are still completely in control of this game, particularly with their strong middle order still alive in the first innings. (ESPNCricinfo)