Sri Lanka’s batters struggle as West Indies build big lead

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PORT OF SPAIN, June 9, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – West Indies turned the screws on
Sri Lanka, taking a 360-run lead with six second innings wickets in hand at
the close of the third day of the first Test on Friday.

Continuation of the inept batting display of the previous evening, save for
a 78-run fifth-wicket partnership between captain Dinesh Chandimal and
wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella, saw the tourists lose their last six
wickets for 64 runs to be dismissed for 185 at tea in reply to the home
side’s formidable first innings total of 414 for eight declared.

However, home skipper Jason Holder declined to enforce the follow-on at the
Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, giving the opportunity to Kieran Powell to
compile an entertaining, unbeaten 64 as the West Indies reached stumps at 131
for four.

With two days left in the match, it remains to be seen what target Holder
will feel comfortable with on the fourth day and, more importantly, how much
time he believes he will need to ensure his bowlers, himself included, can
complete the victory to give his side an early lead in the three-match
series.

Following the devastation wreaked by pacers Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach
late on day two and at the start of day three, it was fast-medium bowler
Miguel Cummins who cleaned up the Sri Lankan tail to finish with the best
innings figures of three for 39.

However, there can be no trivialising the damage inflicted by the two new
ball bowlers, both in terms of wickets and psychologically, on batsmen who
appeared almost completely incapable of coping with fast, short-pitched
bowling on a sporting surface.

Yet as well as the hosts bowled on the third day, the visitors contributed
to their own demise with a succession of poor shots.

– In trouble –

Already in trouble at the overnight position of 31 for three, Sri Lanka
lost Roshen Silva at the start of the morning, bowled by Roach, before
Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella offered the only substantial resistance.

They looked to be getting on top of the bowling heading into the lunch
interval when Chandimal, on 44, set the tone for the remainder of the innings
by playing a loose shot in the final over before the break off Gabriel for
Roston Chase to take his third catch of the innings at backward point.

Dickwella was then run out for 31 in a mix-up with new batsman Dilruwan
Perera early into the afternoon session and from that point the innings
subsided swiftly.

Despite the West Indies’ comfortable position at the start of the second
innings, the pressure was once again on the recalled Devon Smith to deliver
at the top of the order.

Run out in the first innings for just seven, he was first bowled by a no-
ball from Suranga Lakmal and then bowled again by the very next delivery,
this time legitimately, and departed for 20.

Lahiru Kumara, who impressed with his pace and effort in taking four
wickets in the first innings, enjoyed success again when he had the other
opener, Kraigg Brathwaite, caught by Dickwella and removed premier middle-
order batsman Shai Hope shortly after to a second slip catch by Roshen Silva.

At the other end, Powell was all impressive assurance with his stroke
play, reaching the half-century mark off just 59 deliveries. By the time
stumps were drawn, his 64 had occupied 80 balls in an innings embellished by
two sixes and six fours.

He lost Chase just before the close of play, bowled by Rangana Herath. It
was hardly cause for celebration, though, in a Sri Lankan camp bracing for
the challenge of batting for survival at some point on the fourth day against
the likes of Gabriel and Roach on a wearing pitch.

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