BAJAN batsman Kyle Mayers believes the West Indies must strike early on day-four of the second Test match against hosts Sri Lanka.
At stumps on day three, Sri Lanka (48/2) in their second innings trail by three runs. Earlier in the day, West Indies chased down Sri Lanka’s first innings score and posted 253, to give them a lead of 50 runs.
However, the maroon lost their last seven wickets for 87 runs, capitulating from a steady 137/2 to a shabby 253 as a tantalising six-for spell from off-spinner Ramesh Mendis (6/70) wrecked the visitors’ batting line-up.
Opening batsman and West Indies skipper Kraigg BrathwaitWe (72) top-scored with partner Jermaine Blackwood (44) while Mayers finished on 36 not out.
Sri Lanka closed day three with eight wickets in-hand, having lost in-form captain Dimuth Karunaratne (6) and Oshada Fernando (14) earlier on, via run out.
Mayers believes entering day-four with a slight lead and their opposition two wickets down is a good place to be.
“We have to keep down the run rate and apply some pressure. We’re ahead of the game now. If we stop them from scoring, runs are crucial coming into the last day.
“The least amount of runs they get the better for us. So if we could keep the pressure on and try to squeeze some wickets out tomorrow in the first hour, I think it will be great,” he said.
When Mayers entered with the bat on the third day West Indies were still in the fight at 180/4. But six wickets fell in quick succession as Shai Hope (22), Jason Holder (four), Joshua Da Silva (duck), Kemar Roach (eight), Veerasammy Permaul (15) and Jomel Warrican (one) all perished, leaving the 29-year old batsman with an unbeaten 36 runs.
As he saw his teammates, one by one, return to the stands, Mayers upped the ante and hit two fours and a six before West Indies fell. He had no choice but to change his batting plan.
“When I went in (to bat) Shai spent some time at the crease but unfortunately he fell and a few others quickly after.
“So then we just reassessed. I came out with a plan to try to score as much runs as possible by taking a little risks and it worked out in the end,” he added.
Mayers was still pleased with the team’s 50-run first innings lead although suffering yet another batting collapse.
Heading into day-four on Thursday, on a spin-friendly pitch, the left-handed batsman said, “I don’t think the pitch has any demons. I think you just need to be patient. The balls are still spinning but a bit slow. So you just need to assess the conditions. Starting on the wicket is very hard so once you get in, you just stay there and try to maximise.”