Sri Lanka managed to keep themselves in the hunt after West Indies 1st innings score of 354 on the second day of the second Test match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua thanks to in-form batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne’s back-to-back half-centuries.
Sri Lanka had to take 3 more wickets in the morning but the overnight pair for West Indies Kraigg Brathwaite and Rakheem Cornwall who were on 99* and 43* respectively, completed their 100-run partnership for the 8th wicket, making the life more difficult for the visitors.
Windies – 354 All Out
Brathwaite managed to score his maiden century as the skipper of the team and further added 26 runs to the total, being the last player to be dismissed in the innings. Brathwaite’s patient innings occupied 311 balls and helped the other batters to score off the Sri Lankan bowlers more aggressively.
Meanwhile, the big Antiguan Rahkeem Cornwall recorded his 2nd half century of the series, becoming only the second West Indian to make back-to-back Test fifties batting at No. 9 or lower, after Michael Holding (69 and 59, v England, 1984).
Cornwall was lucky to survive two LBW appeals from Suranga Lakmal as the umpire turned down both appeals. The ball tracking suggested it was hitting the leg stump but it was umpire’s call on DRS.
Finally, the veteran Suranga Lakmal managed to remove Cornwall for 73 before the speedster Dushmantha Chameera picked up the last two wickets to restrict West Indies for 354.
Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who did not have a good outing in the first Test, was extra cautious in his innings leaving almost everything and resisting the urge to drive in the 4th/5th stump line. Unfortunately, when he finally decided to poke at one with hard hands, it flew to the 3rd slip and Nkrumah Bonner produced a moment of magic, diving to his right to take a one-handed stunner.
Since Cricket resumed after COVID-19, Karunaratne has failed in 6 Test innings except for his century in South Africa. [Karunaratne’s last 7 Test innings – 22, 6, 2, 103, 12, 3, 1]
Sri Lanka’s in form batsmen Thirimanne continued from where he left off in the first Test as he piled up another fifty to his name, making it his 3rd of the series. Thirimanne’s plan was really simple; block, block, block, attack (on loose ball) and block again.
Last 6 Test innings of Lahiru Thirimanne
111, 43, 13, 70, 76, 55
368 – Runs
61.33 – Average
However, the southpaw was dismissed just after reaching his fifty in the same fashion in his last 2 innings, driving an inswing delivery and letting the ball between bat and pad.
After losing Thirimanne, Sri Lanka was in trouble at 3/77 but Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva managed to survive the day without any scratches taking Sri Lanka to 136/3, still trailing by 218 runs to West Indies’ first innings score.
This series has had its fair share of controversial decisions and there was another one made in the last over of the day as De Silva survived a caught behind appeal review. Ultra-Edge showed a spike, but the split-screen view showed the ball wasn’t near the bat so the TV umpired deemed it in favour of the batsman.
The game was disturbed by the rain time to time but the delays were short-lived thanks to the passing showers. However, 3 overs were lost during the day. Sri Lanka batsmen still have a huge task in front of themselves to get ahead of the game or even get close to the opposition’s 354. Current pair at the middle De Silva, Chandimal and the next in; Pathum Nissanka and Niroshan Dickwella will most probably have to produce another marathon effort like the 2nd innings of 1st Test, if Sri Lanka to hope for a famous win here.