Mendis six-70 makes Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2nd Test uniformly poised – by Sunil Thenabadu (sports editor – eLanka)
Sri Lanka 204 and 46 for 2 (Nissanka 21*) trail West Indies 253 (Brathwaite 72, Blackwood 44, Mendis 6-70) by 3 runs
On the first full, rain uninterrupted day’s play of the Test, Sri Lanka and West Indies set up what promises to be a Galle classic. At stumps, the hosts in their second innings trail by three runs with eight wickets in hand, on a pitch that has yielded 21 wickets over the past two days – though the last two days will have the Dimuth Karunaratne’s side kicking themselves, both being entirely preventable run outs, himself and Oshada Fernando
The first came as a consequence of an exceptional directly hit from Kyle Mayers to dismiss the captain himself, while the second was rather more self-inflicted, with Oshada Fernando hesitating in the middle of the pitch and failing to come back to his crease in time.
That has left Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka at the crease, on 21 and 4 respectively, with the former also nursing a knee injury that he had obtained therapy for on the field.
Therefore going into the final two days, with rain also anticipated in spurts, the game is poised to go down to the wire. While West Indies will be wary of having to bat last – only two teams have chased a score higher than double-digits to win in Galle.– they will be quietly confident of the skill of their batters in pursuing what could end up being a modest target.
Indeed, despite losing their last seven wickets for just 87 runs earlier in day, Kraig Brathwaite would have been buoyed by how well the top order coped with Sri Lanka’s spin threat for the most part. He himself was the top scorer, hitting 72 off 185, while Jermaine Blackwood (44), Nkrumah Bonner (35) and Kyle Mayers (36) all notched in with nifty knocks to ensure a 49-run lead. That could have been significantly more had it not been for the Sri Lankan spinners who, after a below par display in the morning, unveiled a vice grasp on the visitors after lunch.
Ramesh Mendis was the undisputed star for the hosts, ending with career-best figures of 6 for 70 – his first five-wicket haul in Tests – while Lasith Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama picked up two apiece. Mayers’ unbeaten 36 off 64 late on had briefly threatened to balloon the lead, but he eventually ran out of partners