Permaul, Warrican bowl West Indies to position of strength

SUMMARY: West Indies 69-1 (Blackwood 44, Brathwaite 22*, Bonner 1*, Jayawickrama 1-11) trail Sri Lanka 204 (Nissanka 73, Karunaratne 42, Permaul 5-35, Warrican 4-50) by 135 runs

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Rain brought an early close to the second session on the second day of the second and final Test, but in the little play that has been possible, West Indies have taken big strides towards squaring the series.

Following a morning session that brought nine Sri Lankan wickets for the addition of just 91 runs, West Indies came up with a solid batting display after lunch, bringing the gap to 135 runs for the loss of only Jermaine Blackwood‘s wicket.

Blackwood’s lbw dismissal – and his subsequent poorly judged review – off a Praveen Jayawickrama arm ball, was the only blight in what was an otherwise consummate batting performance by the visitors. While neither Blackwood nor Kraigg Brathwaite, the openers, took any undue risks, they were not really tested either.

Both were relatively untroubled – whether moving deep into the crease to counter the spin or planting a big front foot to get to the pitch of the ball – but notably steered clear of the sweeps and sauntering down the pitch, which had been a hallmark of the Sri Lanka innings earlier.

This meant that they were content to wait for the bad ball – primarily ones pitched too short – to score boundaries, though it was really only Blackwood that showed any semblance of positive intent in that regard. His 99-ball 44 came with five boundaries, and following his dismissal, the onus has fallen on Brathwaite and Nkrumah Bonner to keep the scoreboard ticking along.

The Sri Lankan spinners, for their part, struggled to get the same purchase off the pitch that the likes of Jomel Warrican and Veerasammy Permaul, who finished with career-best figures of 5-35, had extracted so effortlessly earlier in the day. Indeed, perhaps buoyed by what they had seen in the morning, the Sri Lankan spinners were arguably a little too eager.

On several occasions, they strayed too full, while on others they erred on the shorter side. On the occasions that they did find their lengths, the West Indian batters were coaxed into false strokes, which in the end was what brought about Blackwood’s wicket.

In the morning, Warrican and Permaul had run riot. They were adroit with their lines and lengths, and Warrican in particular varied his pace and trajectory well to prevent the batters from settling down.

Permaul was the epitome of discipline, with probing, consistent lines – mixed in with the odd arm ball – that would have done even the finest exponents of left-arm spin proud.

After some brief early resistance from the batters, Warrican was rewarded when he induced Oshada Fernando into edging a cut to Joshua Da Silva behind the stumps. Oshada’s overnight partner, Pathum Nissanka, was the next to go, trapped plumb in front courtesy a Permaul arm ball. There was no partnership of note after that.

To compound matters for Sri Lanka, Angelo Mathews was forced to retire hurt, with what looked like a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

He returned to the crease towards the end of the innings, and proceeded to launch some big blows to take Sri Lanka beyond the 200 mark, before receiving an absolute ripper from Warrican that zipped past his forward defence to knock back middle stump and bring the innings to an end. (ESPNcricinfo)

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