Karunaratne leads Sri Lanka’s dominance against West Indies

SUMMARY: Sri Lanka 267-3 (Karunaratne 132*, de Silva 56*, Nisaanka 56) vs West Indies

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Dimuth Karunaratne hunkered down in the difficult first session, scored more confidently in the afternoon, and then pressed home Sri Lanka’s advantage in the evening, to go to stumps at 132 off 265 balls in his first Test since May.

Pathum Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva also made contrasting fifties, to help their captain bookend the day with big stands. On a surface that is expected to dry out and take turn by day three, Sri Lanka’s 267-3 represents a substantial advantage for the hosts.

West Indies will rue a number of close and missed chances, none greater than the dropped catch off Karunaratne when he was on 14. Rahkeem Cornwall, who perhaps put Karunaratne through his greatest test of the innings with his first spell, got a ball to take the outside edge as the batter attempted to open the face.

It flew just wide of the wicketkeeper’s gloves, and at a catchable height to the right of slip. Jermaine Blackwood could not get two hands to the ball, though, and grassed it.

Offspin was West Indies’ most effective weapon on day one, with Roston Chase removing Oshada Fernando and Angelo Mathews, both for 3, after tea. Their best bowler, however, was Jason Holder, who delivered eight maiden overs in his total of 14, and troubled Mathews so consistently that it prompted the batter to take a fatal risk against Chase.

Shannon Gabriel, who was controversially preferred over Kemar Roach for this Test, was the other bowler to take a wicket, when he had Nissanka chase a wide delivery, and nick off to first slip roughly midway through the middle session. Gabriel was expensive, though, leaking 56 runs from his 12 overs. Both frontline spinners – Cornwall and left-armer Jomel Warrican – also delivered good spells, particularly in the morning, when the pitch had a little bite.

Karunaratne struggled in the early overs, as you might expect from a batter who has barely played any competitive cricket over the past six months. He played and missed against Gabriel and Holder, and was pinned down by Cornwall, who used the crease to vary his angle to the left-hander from around the wicket. With the benefit of that dropped catch, though, Karunaratne survived, and began to build.

He went to lunch on 32 off 75 balls, and raised the tempo after the break – the conditions having settled somewhat. He used his feet to drive the spinners through mid-off, and sometimes shuffled across to either lap or glance them through fine leg – his two most productive regions. The seamers he largely hit square of the wicket, often employing his favoured flick. (ESPNcricinfo)

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