TEST: Brathwaite, bad weather hold off Sri Lanka
SUMMARY: Sri Lanka 253 (Chandimal 119*, Mendis 45, Gabriel 5-59, Roach 4-49) and 342 (Mendis 87, Dickwella 62, Gabriel 8-62) drew with West Indies 300 (Smith 61, Kumara 4-86) and 147-5 (Brathwaite 59*, Hope 39, Rajitha 2-23, Lakmal 2-48)
Sri Lanka had dismissed the stubborn Shai Hope soon after tea, giving themselves one final chance to surge to victory, but then the rains arrived, followed by bad light. In the end, West Indies drew the match with five wickets in hand, with 32.3 overs lost to the conditions.
Perhaps Sri Lanka will rue the two hours they had spent off the field, protesting the ball-tampering charge on Saturday. Another 25 overs of play could have seen them scythe through the West Indies lower order, as they had in the first innings.
Though the rain clouds sealed the draw, it was Kraigg Brathwaite who had set it all up. He was secure in defense and resolute in attitude right through the day, refusing to be shaken by Sri Lanka’s short-ball bursts, declining to be lured into loose drives, and capably defusing the spinners, who even on day five did not gain substantial turn off this pitch.
Brathwaite’s innings soaked up 172 balls, moving to 59 not out during its course. Hope resisted best in his company. The two of them saw out 35.5 of the 60.3 overs Sri Lanka bowled at them in the day. Hope’s innings was split into two, because he had had to go off after being hit in the ribs by Lahiru Kumara, but he nevertheless played a vital hand, batting out 115 balls while scoring 39.
Sri Lanka will likely be disappointed that even the overs that were available to them had proved insufficient. By lunch, they had had three wickets, and seemed set to surge quickly to victory, their quicks running hot.
The first West Indies wickets had not taken long to come – Kasun Rajitha seaming a delivery away from left-hander Devon Smith to have him nick one to second slip in the fourth over of the innings, before moving one into Kieran Powell to have him caught at square leg.
Before they had even got to double figures, West Indies were two down. Later in the session, after Hope had been struck and forced to exit the field, Roston Chase had his off stump uprooted by Suranga Lakmal, who set the batsman up with a succession of away-seamers, before sneaking a straight ball through his defences.
Then came the main Brathwaite-Hope stand. Although obviously still sore, Hope negotiated a fresh short-ball examination with aplomb, even smacking a Lakmal bouncer for six in front of square. There were times when he played and missed, and others when he miscued shots, but the chances never went to hand.
Brathwaite seemed much more in control, getting plenty of bat even to the balls that surprised him either by staying low, or leaping alarmingly. Inconsistent bounce had become a feature of this surface through the day.
It was the second session, in which West Indies only lost the wicket of Shane Dowrich to the offspin of Akila Dananjaya, that the hosts really laid the groundwork for this result. Hope and Brathwaite put on 53 for the fifth wicket.
Fourth ball after tea, Lakmal got a ball to cut in at Hope and had it ricochet off his elbow into the stumps, but although suddenly Sri Lanka were alive again, the weather soon intervened. First the rains washed out about 78 minutes of play.
Although the teams took the field again, only 2.3 overs were possible before the umpires hauled them off again for bad light. The final delivery was proof that there was still life in this pitch – Jason Holder struck in the box by a ball that jagged in off a length.
But before Sri Lanka even began bowling, Shannon Gabriel had imposed himself on the day again, as he has throughout these first two Tests. He blasted out the last two Sri Lanka wickets, to claim an exceptional match haul of 13 for 121 – the third best in West Indies’ storied bowling history.
He struck Suranga Lakmal in front of the stumps before Sri Lanka had got off the mark for the day, then bowled Dananjaya twice, in his second over. The first of those dismissals was wrongly deemed illegitimate, umpire Ian Gould signalling a no-ball, even though a sliver of Gabriel’s boot had landed behind the line. (ESPNCricinfo)