WEST INDIES continued to tighten the screws on Sri Lanka yesterday with a disciplined bowling performance by their pacers. Miguel Cummins (3/39), Shannon Gabriel (2/48), Kemar Roach (2/34) and Jason Holder (1/15) accounted for eight of the 10 dismissals as the visitors struggled to cope with the pace and bounce at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair. Sri Lanka, resuming on 31 for three, were dismissed for 185 just before tea, conceding a massive first innings lead of 229 runs. Windies captain Holder surprisingly decided against enforcing the follow-on, with the tourists on the ropes. The Sri Lankans batsman would have enjoyed that reprieve as they showed little application in dealing with the four-pronged fast bowling attack.
The Windies lost four wickets in their second innings, but Kieran Powell put on a show for the biggest crowd of the match so far. The left-hander struck six fours and two sixes in an exciting knock of 64 from 80 balls to place the hosts in full command on 131 for four and a lead of 360 runs with two days remaining.
Speaking after play ended, Powell tempered expectation of a Windies victory today, saying their first objective is to bat themselves into a position where they cannot lose.
“I think we are already in a good position, it’s just a matter of taking time out of the game now. I think we get to lunch tomorrow and assess from there. It’s just a matter of putting ourselves in a position where we can’t lose the game and getting Sri Lankans tired and running around in the sun tomorrow,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Roach dented Sri Lanka’s hope of a revival, striking in the first half-hour of play, spectacularly uprooting the leg-stump of Roshen Silva for five.
Overnight batsman Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella sought to repair the damage with a conservative approach vs the quicks and pushed the score along with a 78-run partnership to bring up the Sri Lankan 100. Chandimal was leading from the front with 44 (five fours) but was baited into an uppish drive square of the wicket by Gabriel. He was caught at point by Roston Chase as Sri Lanka went to lunch on 125 for five. Gabriel should have had his third wicket first ball after lunch but Chase, in the same spot, could not hold on to a low catch offered by Dilruwan Perera.
The nervousness in the middle was evident among the Sri Lankans and they soon gifted away another wicket through lackadaisical running between the stumps. Dickwella pushed a delivery from Bishoo to mid-on and took forever to decided whether to take the single.
When he did, Dickwella strolled casually through for the run but was caught short of his ground by a direct hit from Brathwaite to make it 140/6. Pacer Miguel Cummins returned for a spell of short-pitched bowling that cleaned up the tail.
He removed Rangana Herath (5), Suranga Lakmal (15) and Lahiru Kumara (8) cheaply as the tourists lost their last six wickets for 64 runs. Bishoo finished with the solitary scalp of Dilruwan, caught at short leg by Hope with a delivery that took the inside edge.
Batting a second time, West Indies lost opener Devon Smith twice bowled for 20 by Lakmal in bizarre fashion. Lakmal breached Smith’s defence with a ball that pitched and seamed in but the umpire quickly signalled that the bowler had overstepped the crease. Smith seemed to think he had a free-hit as customary in ODIs and T20s as he swung wildly at a wide ball from Lakmal next delivery and inside-edged it onto his stumps.
Windies lost three more wickets – Brathwaite (16), Shai Hope (1) and Roston Chase (12) – before the close of play but Powell ensured the hosts stayed in control.
He continued his positive strokeplay from the first innings, sauntering into the 30s with back to back boundaries off Kumara who finished the day with two wickets.
The left-hander dispatched a short ball by Kumara to the square boundary with authority and punched him down the ground with disdain as he over compensated in length. Powell was having a party, showing no respect for Kumara, top-edging him for six to move closer to his half-century. He brought up the landmark off 59 balls in style, dancing down the track to meet off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for a straight six, to the delight of the home fans.