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2 Apr 2021
A valiant innings of 85 runs and twin fifties from middle-order batsmen Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder helped West Indies put Sri Lanka out of contention of winning the second and final game of the series.
In reply to the target of 375 runs, Sri Lanka were 29/0 at the stumps on the fourth day with both Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne negotiating the last nine overs of the day. They were helped by wayward bowling by the new ball bowlers in Kemar Roach and Jason Holder.
Earlier, to start the day, Pathum Nissanka completed a hardworking fifty to continue his golden run of form with the bat. However, in order to add more runs while batting with the lower order batsmen, he perished to a short ball by Roach. Roach removed Vishwa Fernando and with him finished off Sri Lanka’s first innings in the same over as Windies earned a 96 run lead.
The situation demanded a strong partnership between Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell, who has not had a great time with the bat in the last few months. Campbell survived a close LBW call and hit few boundaries to get going but the innings was cut short by an accurate Suranga Lakmal bowling from around the wicket.
Needing quick runs in order to win the game, Windies promoted Jermaine Blackwood to the number three position. There was intent from both batsmen as boundaries started coming off easily for them. A confusion between them in running between the wicket allowed Sri Lanka an opportunity to run Blackwood out, but like they have done on the tour so far, they wasted it.
The missed run-out chance got more embarrassing when Blackowdd was dropped in the slips just two overs later. Sri Lanka have been quite poor in the field off late and they dropped many catches in the first innings to let Windies get off the hook.
Finally, Dushmantha Chameera came on to send Blackwood back to the pavilion although the ball did not deserve a wicket but for the poor short of the batsman. A similar delivery was guided seamlessly by the next man Kyle Mayers and the duo started putting pressure on the bowling line up with calculated assault.
Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva troubled the left-handed Mayers, but he was saved on the DRS by the very old foe for captains—umpire's call, that that ICC said yesterday is here to stay.
Emboldened by the reprieve, Mayers got more belligerent with the bat and put Chameera on his attack list. He was treating the pacer with disdain ad waiting on the backfoot in expectations of short-pitched bowling.
There was no improvement in Lank’s fielding as Oshada Fernando grassed yet another chance off Brathwaite of the bowling of Chameera. Both batsmen reached their fifty run-mark and Windies pressed on for more and more runs to force a result in the game.
Lakmal came back to see the back of Mayers but there was no respite for the tourists as Holder took off from where Mayers left the crease. A silky drive against de Silva’s spin and the former captain was off and running. He looked in menacing touch and when bowlers tested his backfoot game, he brought out his whopping pull shots to send the signal to his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad that although he is away from them, the preparation is well and truly on for the IPL.
While Brathwaite neared his second century of the match the momentum did not slow down for him. He found boundaries making good use of his wrists. However, he missed out on the feat when he tried to be too cheeky against Chameera.
Windies were already on the charge and Joshua Da Sliva did not waste any time in stamping his team’s authority on the game. After batting for nearly 75 overs, Windies declared their second innings to have a crack on Sri Lankan batsmen. But, that intent and efforts were thwarted by the Sri Lankan openers and it has set up a perfect finish for a highly riveting final day of the Test and series.