A BATTLING performance by the Sri Lanka batsmen in the second innings yesterday led by Kusal Mendis, ensured the first Test match against West Indies will go into a fifth and final day at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair, today.
West Indies are still in the driver’s seat as Sri Lanka closed day four yesterday on 176 for three in chase of 453 for victory. Mendis ended on an unbeaten 94 from 186 deliveries which comprised nine fours and one six. Bowling for the West Indies Jason Holder (1/18), Shannon Gabriel (1/44) and Devendra Bishoo (1/32) all grabbed one wicket.
The performance by the Sri Lanka batsmen on day four was unlike their first innings which saw them bundled out for 185.
History is not on the side of the Sri Lankans as no team has chased over 450 runs to win a match in the history of Test cricket. In 2003, West Indies chased down an improbable 418/7 against Australia at the Antigua Recreation Ground in Antigua, which is still the record for the highest run chase in the history of Test cricket. Sri Lanka may be in with a chance of chasing the total as last year Sri Lanka chased almost 400 runs to defeat Zimbabwe. Chasing 388 to win last July at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka got to 391/6 to prevail by four wickets. It is the fifth highest run chase in the history of Test cricket.
Yesterday, Kusal Perera started the Sri Lanka second innings positively hitting two fours, but Gabriel got his wicket to leave the score on 21/1. Perera tried to play a straight delivery on the leg side, but found the edge to give Devon Smith an easy catch at first slip.
Gabriel could have gotten another wicket soon after when Mendis edged the ball to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.
The umpire did not give Mendis out, and after some deliberation on the field West Indies decided not to review it. Unfortunately for West Indies, replays showed Mendis edged the ball.
After Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal had to retire hurt after injuring his arm, Mendis and Angelo Mathews progressed slowly against the Windies pacers.
The Windies pacers, like the first innings, generated a lot of bounce and swing on the wicket.
Bishoo and fellow spinner Roston Chase were introduced, but Sri Lanka went to the tea break without any further loss on 65/1.
Mendis played arguably the shot of the day after tea when he nonchalantly flicked pacer Kemar Roach for a six over square leg, before hitting Roach for four through the covers in the same over.
Mendis lived a charmed life, as he was dropped by Shane Dowrich off Bishoo and was also nearly run out as he approached his 50.
He eventually brought up his 50 with a single on the leg side, the landmark came off 137 deliveries and included four fours and one six.
Mathews and Mendis seemed to be taking Sri Lanka to the close. However, Mathews fell for 31 to reduce Sri Lanka to 123/2 when he edged a short pitched delivery from Holder to Dowrich on the leg side.
Moments before the close, Roshen Silva was out for 14 when he was surprised by the bounce of a delivery and Bishoo accepted an easy caught and bowl opportunity.
Earlier, West Indies resuming the day on 131/4 in the second innings declared on 223/7 after some positive strokeplay in the morning session. After first innings century maker Dowrich was out leg before to Lahiru Kumara for 13, Holder entertained the small crowd.
Holder and Kieran Powell put on 42 for the sixth wicket with the Windies captain dominating the partnership.
Powell fell for 88 with the score on 191 when he chipped down the wicket and played the ball to mid-wicket. Powell’s 127-ball knock included seven fours and two sixes.
Holder was next to go when he was given leg before to spinner Rangana Herath attempting a reverse sweep.
Holder asked for the decision to be reviewed, but the decision stood. Holder scored 39 off 40 deliveries with four fours and one six.
At lunch, West Indies progressed to 209/7, a lead of 438 runs with Bishoo on 12 and Roach on one.
The match continues at 10 am today.
West Indies 414/8 dec (Shane Dowrich 125 not out, Shai Hope 44, Lahiru Kumara 4/95, Suranga Lakmal 2/55) and 223/7 dec (Kieran Powell 88, Jason Holder 39, L Kumara 3/40, Rangana Herath 2/52) vs Sri Lanka 185 (Dinesh Chandimal 44, Niroshan Dickwella 31, Miguel Cummins 3/39, Shannon Gabriel 2/48, Kemar Roach 2/34) and 176/3 (Kusal Mendis 94 not out, Angelo Mathews 31, J Holder 1/18)