GALLE – An unbeaten 149 run partnership between Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal helped Sri Lanka reach an imposing 250 for 2 at the end of the first day’s play in the first Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies at the Galle International Stadium.
Angelo Mathews won the toss and chose to bat on what he described as a typically dry Galle pitch. Sri Lanka started well, despite some tight bowling by Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor, who got the ball to move around a little during their first spells.
Despite playing and missing several times, the Sri Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva, survived the first hour and went on to post their first 50-run partnership of the year in the 17th over.
They were helped by the fact that Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel, the first and second change bowlers, were not quite able to exert the same pressure as the opening bowlers Roach and Taylor.
Roach eventually struck in his second spell, when he went wide of the crease and got the ball to straighten just enough to find Silva’s edge through to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. Sri Lanka went into lunch with Karunaratne well set on 41 and Lahiru Thirimanne, having just joined him, on 1.
Thirimanne, whose last 12 innings have consisted of just one 50-plus score, struggled to find any semblance of form as he prodded his way to 16 off 62 balls. He had his share of luck too, having been put down by Darren Bravo at slip. Ironically, it was when he had just begun to find the middle of his bat, that he was dismissed trying to loft Devendra Bishoo on the on side. He only succeeded in inside edging the ball to short midwicket where substitute fielder Rajendra Chandrika did well to hang on to the catch on the second attempt.
Karunaratne, who lost his opening slot to Upul Tharanga in the last Test versus India, continued to bat responsibly. Using the crease to great effect, he was comfortable leaving deliveries that were angled away from him by the quicks, forcing them to bowl around the wicket to him.
Dinesh Chandimal provided him with the ideal partner, as he too looked comfortable playing the balls according to merit and not going for too many shots. Together they put on 149 runs to ensure that Sri Lanka ended the day on top.
Chandimal, however, had Taylor to thank for still being at the crease at the close. When he was on 11 he went for a lofted shot and only succeeded in finding Taylor coming in from the deep long-off boundary who duly spilled the opportunity. It was an ordinary day in the field for the fast bowler who also missed a regulation stop off a drive by Chandimal that burst through his fingers and went for four.
Karunaratne’s 135 is currently the highest score by a Sri Lankan batsman versus the West Indies, going past the 120 scored by Malinda Warnapura in 2008. It is also his highest score and first century in Galle.
West Indies, who came into the match with four fast bowlers, found the conditions tough and captain Holder was forced to use seven bowlers during the course of the day. Early wickets will be needed if they are to ensure that they stay in the game.
Sri Lanka 1st Innings
D Karunaratne not out 135
K Silva c Ramdin b Roach 17
L Thirimanne c sub (R Chandrika) b Bishoo 16
D Chandimal not out 72
Total: 250/2 (90 Overs)
Extras: (lb 5, nb 5) 10
Still to Bat: A Mathews*, M Siriwardana, K Perera+, D Prasad, T Kaushal, R Herath,N Pradeep.
Fall of Wickets: 1-56 (Silva, 17.6 ov), 2-101 (Thirimanne, 40.6 ov).
West Indies 1st Innings Bowling: J Taylor 12-2-35-0, K Roach 13-3-33-1, J Holder 13-4-20-0, S Gabriel 11-2-36-0, M Samuels 18-4-42-0, D Bishoo 22-1-78-1, K Brathwaite 1-0-1-0.
West Indies XI: K Brathwaite, S Hope, Darren Bravo, M Samuels, J Blackwood, D Ramdin+, J Holder*, D Bishoo, J Taylor, K Roach, S Gabriel.
Toss: Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat
Test Debut: Milinda Siriwardana (Sri Lanka)
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) & Richard Illingworth (England)
TV Umpire: Simon Fry (Australia)
Match Referee: David Boon (Australia)
Reserve Umpire: Ruchira Palliyaguruge