BRIDGETOWN: Kemar Roach removed both openers but an unbroken 49-run third-wicket partnership between Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis has taken Sri Lanka to 75 for two in reply to the West Indies first innings total of 204 at the dinner break on the second day of the day/night third Test.
Sri Lanka, who trail 0-1 in the series, will head into the final session with Gunathilaka (29 not out) and Mendis (22 not out) seeking to extend their effort which was essential after Roach’s early burst with the new ball.
While Shannon Gabriel struggled to find the control which brought him match figures of 13 for 121 in the drawn second Test in St Lucia, Roach was right on target and reaped immediate rewards at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Sunday.
Kusal Perera’s vulnerability outside the off-stump was again exposed when the left-hander edged a delivery to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich while Mahela Udawatte was palpably leg-before to another probing full-length ball, reducing Sri Lanka then to 16 for two.
On a pitch offering considerable assistance to the pacers on both sides, Lahiru Kumara had earlier triggered a West Indies lower-order slide which saw the home team losing their last five wickets for 36 runs.
Kumara, the fast bowler who has emerged as the tourists’ outstanding performer with the ball in this three-match series, broke the productive sixth-wicket partnership between Dowrich and West Indies captain Jason Holder which had frustrated the Sri Lakans on a rain-affected opening night as they rescued the home side from the depths of 53 for five with a 115-run stand.
Dowrich, who has enjoyed his best-ever series with the bat, highlighted by an unbeaten 125 in his first innings of the campaign in Trinidad, eventually fell for 71 on the second afternoon, trapped LBW by Kumara.
Holder was actually the dominant partner when play resumed in bright afternoon sunshine on the second day, impressing with a succession of straight-driven boundaries off the faster bowlers.
However when Dowrich’s demise was followed shortly after by the dismissal of Devendra Bishoo, taken in the slips off Kumara, the West Indies captain displayed an even more aggressive intent.
But it was to prove his undoing as Dilruwan Perera snared an excellent diving catch at gully to get rid of Holder for a topscore of 74 off Kasun Rajitha, who finished with figures of three for 68. Perera then got involved with the ball by having Miguel Cummins taken at short-leg as the West Indies tail showed none of the resilience that was in evidence earlier in the series.
Kumara then polished off the innings by having Gabriel caught behind to lead the effort by the Sri Lankan bowlers with four for 68, raising his wicket tally in the series so far to 15 with the expectation of adding a few more in the West Indies second innings.