GROS ISLET, St Lucia – Veteran left-hander Devon Smith hit a gritty half-century but rain overshadowed his efforts, allowing only 42.3 overs on the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka today in St Lucia.
Resuming from their overnight two without loss, the West Indies found their progress stalled by repeated rain interruptions at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground and ended on 118 for two in their first innings.
They trail Sri Lanka by 135 runs heading into Saturday’s third day, with the slow pace of the game already increasing chances of a stalemate.
While the bad weather stayed away for the first session, nearly two hours of the second session was lost to rain after the heavens opened up during the lunch interval, taken with West Indies on 65 for one.
And attempts to extend the session once play resumed proved futile, as the elements returned again to force players from the field on a couple of occasions.
It made for a frustrating evening as players trudged on and off the field between showers, further disrupting an affair already being witnessed by few spectators.
Amidst the interruptions, the 36-year-old Smith remained unfazed, carving out four fours and a six in a 134-ball innings of 53 not out, to raise his seventh Test half-century.
Significantly, he put on 59 for the first wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite who made 22, before adding a further 56 with fellow left-hander Kieran Powell who made 27.
Yet to score at the start of play, he crawled to 26 at lunch as West Indies made heavy weather of scoring, adding 63 runs from 25 overs sent down during the opening session.
In fact, the first boundary of the innings came in the 15th over of the day when Brathwaite guided seamer Lahiru Kumara behind point.
That seemed to open up the floodgates somewhat and in the next over, Smith belted off-spinner Akila Dananjaya over mid-wicket for four before audaciously clearing the ropes at long on with the next delivery.
Those two overs were as exciting as the day got but Brathwaite spoiled what would have been a good session for the Windies when he nicked debutant pacer Kasun Rajitha behind to give the 25-year-old his first Test wicket, three overs before the interval.
Brathwaite seemed unaware that he had hit the ball as he immediately called for a referral to the third umpire which confirmed the thin outside edge through to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.
When play finally resumed hours later, ten minutes before the normally scheduled tea break, Powell did most of the scoring, striking two fours and a six in a 45-ball innings. The left-hander looked in excellent touch following his second innings 88 in the first Test at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago.
Smith remained steady and eventually reached his landmark two overs before the forced tea break around 4 p.m. when he pulled Kumara around for a single to backward square.
Powell seemed set to head to the close unbeaten when he edged one from Kumara and was taken at second slip by Kusal Mendis. Shai Hope joined Smith and was unbeaten on two at the close.
Kumara bowled with pace and presented a constant threat while Rajitha was steady.
Smith, who has had issues previously with off-spinners at the international level, appeared to have sorted that problem out as he played the unorthodox off-spinner Akila Dananjaya rather assuredly.
SRI LANKA 1st Innings ………… 253
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
(overnight two without loss)
K Brathwaite c wkp Dickwella b Rajitha …………………………………… 22
D Smith not out …………………….. 53
K Powell c Mendis b Kumara …. 27
S Hope not out ………………………… 2
Extras (b4. lb7, w3) ………………… 14
TOTAL (2 wkts, 44.3) ……………. 118
Fall of wickets: 1-59, 2-115.
To bat: R Chase, +S Dowrich,
*J Holder, D Bishoo, K Roach,
M Cummins, S Gabriel.
Bowling: Lakmal 10-4-15-0, Dananjaya 9-4-19-0,
Position: West Indies trail by 135 runs with eight wickets intact.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Ian Gould;
TV – Richard Kettleborough.