Sri Lanka were on the backfoot once again as a result of a terrific Windies bowling performance, when they were dismissed for 253 on the first day of the second Test at Gros Islet on Thursday (June 14). Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lankan captain, played a lone hand and scored a valiant unbeaten 119, with Shannon Gabriel picking up his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
At stumps, Windies were 2 for no loss, trailing the visitors by 251 runs.
Electing to bat first on a good wicket, Sri Lanka received their first setback when one of their two debutants, Mahela Udawatte, was caught brilliantly by Jason Holder in third slip off the bowling of Gabriel. It seemed like a definite plan by the Windies bowlers to bowl around the wicket and play the angle against the two left handed openers, and it paid off in the second over of the match.
Coming in at No. 3, Dhananjaya de Silva struck a fabulous pull shot off his second delivery on his comeback, before he was dismissed by a sharp delivery off Gabriel. The ball jagged back sharply into Silva off a length and struck him below his right elbow, before crashing into the stumps. He writhe in pain as he made his way to the pavilion with the help of the physio. He was said to be okay, with no major damage, and is in line to bat in the second innings.
Kusal Mendis, batting at No. 4 in this match, continued with his rich vein of form, scoring freely. Kusal Perera, opening the innings with his spot in danger, started sedately, scoring just two runs off 32 balls, before opening up and playing his natural attacking game. He struck five boundaries before his innings was cut short by a peach from Roach, who continued with the around the wicket tactic, cramping the batsman for room and giving Holder his second of three catches in the innings.
Chandimal came in with the score at 59 for 3, and set about trying to reconstruct the innings with Mendis. He was given a lifeline on 14 when Devon Smith dropped a regulation catch in the slips. He gelled well with Mendis, who scored freely before playing a shot too many, getting out to a good ball from Holder for 45.
After that, it was a one man show as Chandimal carried on trying to resurrect the Sri Lankan innings, losing partners at the other end at regular intervals. He was caught off a no-ball on 104 when Roach overstepped. However, it didn’t prove too costly as Sri Lanka only added 15 runs more before Lahiru Kumara was dismissed for a duck.
Roach and Gabriel combined well to end with figures of 4 for 49 and 5 for 59 respectively. They bowled with great intensity and pace, and made good use of a batting wicket to restrict the Sri Lankan batsmen to an under par score.
The Windies openers had a tricky ten minutes to negotiate towards the end of play, but did well, ending the day with two runs on the board without any damage. The Sri Lankan bowlers have it all to do on the second day, with the Windies batsmen looking to make the best of excellent conditions.