West Indies collapse to 52 for 6 unplayable against young spin trio in pursuit of 348 – by Sunil Thenabadu (Sports editor – eLanka)
Chief Scores:Sri Lanka 191 for 4 dec (Karunaratne 83, Mathews 69*, Warrican 2-42, Cornwall 2-60) and 386 lead West Indies 230 and 52 for 6 (Mendis 4-17, Embuldeniya 2-18) by 296 runs
Eleven wickets – seven to the visitors – fell on the fourth day of the Galle Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies as the hosts crept nearer towards victory. Sri Lanka’s spinners Ramesh Mendis,Lasith Embuldeniya more or less ran through the West Indies rigid batting line-up to leave them staggering at 52 for 6 at stumps. They need a further 296 runs to win with just four wickets in hand.
Much like in the first innings, it was the wise off spin of Mendis that did much of the destruction, as he was responsible for four more West Indies wickets to take his match count to seven. Embuldeniya snapped two. Sri Lanka’s spinners have so far been accountable for 15 of the 16 in this match.
Principally among the visitors’ struggle has been their incompetence to pick the straighter one that goes on with the arm.
Hope, Roston Chase, Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder were dismissed by the Sri Lanka spinners’ straighter variation, with Mendis responsible for three of them. Mayers, who left one from Mendis that nipped in to trap him plumb in front of the middle stump, the other three were all embattled in other ways,.
The velocity and landscape of the crisis – they were 18 for 6 in 13 overs – was in crisp disparity to the ease with which Sri Lanka’s batters played West Indies’ spinners in their second essay..
Both Dimuth Karunarantne and Angelo Mathews scored half-centuries and shared a 123-run stand ,off 150 balls to help Sri Lanka to set a target of 348.
Karunaratne once more top-scored for Sri Lanka with a 104-ball 83, in what was his sixth consecutive 50-plus score in Tests – he has crossed 50 seven times this year in seven Tests making three figures five times, including a career-best 244 against Bangladesh in Pallekele in April. He, however, fell short of making twin centuries in this Test, edging a cut off Rahkeen Cornwell that circled to first slip passing through the keeper’s gloves. Dhananjaya de Silva was the only other wicket to fall after lunch, when he offered a return catch to Jomel Warrican.
Warrican and Cornwall ended the innings with two wickets apiece, and West Indies needing to achieve a record chase – the highest total effectively dashed in Galle was the 268 Sri Lanka ran down against New Zealand in 2019 – or bat out a day, though rain is expected.
Sri Lanka’s declaration followed a slog sweep for six by Mathews, who remained unbeaten on 69 off 84 deliveries.
Karunaratne, specifically, looked in good nick, growing in poise after a cautious start against some tight bowling from the spinners. Mathews, at the other end, also looked relaxed, a late cut past the backward point the feature of his innings.
West Indies might have had more wickets had it not been for some doubtful decision making. After an ill-advised early review against Karunaratne – he was rapped on the pads outside off stump not offering a stroke, but replays confirmed the ball was missing the stumps by a significant margin – West Indies became exceedingly cautious to use DRS.
This harmed them on two instances. The first was a missed Oshada sweep that brought about a vehement plea from wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva. The review stayed vacant, only for replays to show that Oshada may have got the faintest of touches.
While that didn’t prove too costly, the next one very well might,Cornwall hit Karunaratne on the pads, but none of the West Indies players seemed confident enough to challenge the umpire’s assertion that the ball had pitched outside leg. No review made again, only for replays to show that the ball had indeed pitched in line and likely would have hit off stump.Had those dismissals – the Karunaratne one, in particular – gone in favour of the visitors, things might have been different. But as it stands, only rain or an unlikely
stand in the way of a Sri Lanka win.
Previously in the morning, it took just over 15 minutes for Sri Lanka to capture the final West Indies wicket and guarantee a spirited first-innings lead. Following a rain-delayed start, Sri Lanka picked up the second new ball first thing and went on the onslaught against Da Silva and Gabriel with the spin duo of Lasith Embuldeniya ,Praveen Jayawickrema.Of the two, the latter observed the more prospective to pick up the last wicket, having beaten the outside edge of both batters frequently. was paid in the end. Gabriel was trapped lbw after being caught flat on the toe by one that was well tossed up. Jayawickrama finished with the most excellent figures of the innings: 4 for 40.