If the West Indies bowlers rattled the batsmen on the first morning, today was the turn of Sri Lanka’s bowlers. Dhammika Prasad bounded in, making the early incisions, while allrounder Milinda Siriwardana nipped out two wickets either side of lunch. Dilruwan Perera took care of the tail as the visitors were bowled out for 163.
Kraigg Braithwaite showed some fight with 47 off 101 balls and it was extended through a 32-run seventh-wicket partnership between Denesh Ramdin and Jason Holder. Rangana Herath continued to be a wicket-taking threat but had success only in the 17th over when Ramdin left the crease and missed an agricultural swipe. Not that Sri Lanka complained much. Or it seemed like.
Prasad, who led the attack, explored shorter lengths to begin with, but soon settled into his groove and returned figures of 5-2-8-2 in an energetic first spell. Nuwan Pradeep exploited the uneven bounce well enough to complement Prasad. Devendra Bishoo, the nightwatchman, was the first to go on the second day when he threw his bat outside off, nicking Prasad behind.
Prasad then welcomed Darren Bravo with one that misbehaved, snaking away wide outside off and then beat the outside edge with a full tempter. Prasad got the big eyes and the big smile going. What followed was a sequence of 19 dot balls with Sri Lanka burrowing into the middle order. A few balls spat from a length while others kept low, asking more questions of the batsmen.
The build up of pressure told with Bravo offering an indecisive angled bat and chopping Prasad on for 2. Herath employed teasing flight and ripped one viciously past the outside edge of Brathwaite. Prasad’s first ball to Brathwaite on the second morning, which came 45 minutes after a delayed start due to a wet outfield caused by overnight rain, had the opener scooping just wide of short cover.
Brathwaite had endured more dicey moments but his innings ended when he reached out and edged Siriwardana to Kusal Perera. Marlon Samuel’s innings was far more painstaking – he survived two leg-before appeals on nought, he was left scoreless for 15 balls. He weathered two more leg-before appeals and was out, lazily pushing at a tossed-up ball from Siriwardana to leave his side at 76 for 4, eight balls before lunch.
If it was any consolation, though, Samuels avoided his ninth single-digit score against Sri Lanka in 16 innings, nudging his average to double-figures.
Jermaine Blackwood flickered briefly then – he drilled Pradeep through mid-off and launched Siriwardana for a straight six- before Prasad came back and struck with first-ball after lunch. Holder also showed intent when he jumped out of the crease and sent Dilruwan Perera clattering towards the media box.
However, Ramdin and Holder exited in a space of three overs and the tail did not wag, as the hosts gained what appeared to be a substantial lead on a pitch that already had puffs of dust exploding from the surface.