NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Rain wrecked the final two sessions on the third day of the second Test today, allowing only 1-¾ hours play and stalling West Indies’ push for a victory in the decisive affair at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
The home side were homing in for the kill when they reduced Sri Lanka to 250 for eight in their first innings in the last session which got underway at 4:15 pm (Eastern Caribbean time) following a protracted rain break.
However, adverse weather swept across the ground again at 5:07 pm, halting play for the fourth and final time, and ending any hopes West Indies entertained of claiming the last two Sri Lankan wickets ahead of the penultimate day on Thursday.
Sri Lanka still trail by 104 runs, leaving West Indies with the clear advantage but were being propped up at the close by the diminutive Pathum Nissanka who has so far stroked an unbeaten 49 off 119 deliveries with four fours.
His knock was required after several of his counterparts got starts on a flat track but failed to convert into anything of significance.
Veteran Dinesh Chandimal, on 34 overnight, was dismissed for 44 while Dhananjaya de Silva, on 23 at the start, made 39.
West Indies bowlers, like they did on Tuesday’s second day, remained disciplined and penetrative, seamers Jason Holder (2-40) and Alzarri Joseph (2-64) spearheading the attack for the Caribbean side with two wickets apiece.
Resuming from their overnight 136 for three, Sri Lanka lost both overnight batsmen in the session after the pair had extended their fourth wicket stand to 75.
Chandimal started shakily and was put down by Rahkeem Cornwall diving to his right at first slip off speedster Shannon Gabriel, off the sixth delivery of the morning.
However, Chandimal never settled and eventually perished in the fifth over, failing to keep down a pull off Gabriel and picking out substitute Hayden Walsh strategically placed at deep square for the shot.
He faced 101 balls in just under three hours at the crease and struck half-dozen fours.
Dhanajaya combined with Nissanka to resist West Indies, taking Sri Lanka to the drinks break without further loss in a 25-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Another piece of excellent strategy from captain Kraigg Brathwaite accounted for Dhanajaya, 25 minutes before the scheduled lunch break, when he summoned part-time off-spinner Jermaine Blackwood who hit the right-hander in front with the very first ball of his spell. He didn’t opt for a referral and the replay subsequently showed the ball missing leg stump.
When rain forced lunch to be taken 10 minutes early, the momentum was with West Indies especially with Sri Lanka stumbling on 189 for five, but the weather delayed the restart until 1:20 pm, taking precious time out of the contest.
Only 55 balls were possible during the second session but it was enough time for West Indies to knock over plucky wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella for 20 and Suranga Lakmal for six.
The left-handed Dickwella, unbeaten at lunch on nine, fell half hour following the resumption when he played back to Holder and got an inside edge through to wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva at 203 for six.
Umpire Joel Wilson rejected the initial appeal and West Indies were forced to resort to DRS in order to overturn the not out decision.
Sixteen balls later with 11 runs added, Joseph removed Lakmal, the right-hander clipping a straightforward catch to Brathwaite at short mid-on but only a further seven balls were possible before rain forced an early tea at 217 for seven, with Nissanka unbeaten on 23.
After another frustrating period off the field due to the weather, Holder struck after the resumption when he had Dushmantha Chameera caught at the wicket for two, the right-hander surviving a torrid time at the crease before nicking an uncertain defensive prod behind.
Number 10 Lasith Embuldeniya survived 11 balls without scoring to keep Nissanka’s company, just long enough for the rains to return. (CMC)
WEST INDIES 1st Innings 354
SRI LANKA 1st Innings
(overnight 136 for three)
*D Karunaratne c Bonner b Joseph 1
L Thirimanne b Roach 55
O Fernando lbw b Mayers 18
D Chandimal c sub (Hayden Walsh Jr) b Gabriel 44
D de Silva lbw b Blackwood 39
P Nissanka not out 49
+N Dickwella c wkp Da Silva b Holder 20
S Lakmal c Brathwaite b Joseph 6
D Chameera c wkp Da Silva b Holder 2
L Embuldeniya not out 0
Extras (b4, lb5, w1, nb6) 16
TOTAL (8 wkts, 103.1 overs) 250
To bat: V Fernando
Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Karunaratne), 2-64 (Fernando), 3-77 (Thirimanne), 4-152 (Chandimal), 5-177 (Dhananjaya), 6-203 (Dickwella), 7-214 (Lakmal), 8-231 (Chameera)
Bowling: Roach 16-4-54-1 (nb4), Gabriel 14.1-3-33-1, Joseph 22-4-64-2 (w1), Holder 21-3-39-2 (nb2), Mayers 11-7-10-1, Cornwall 15-5-25-0, Blackwood 4-0-16-1.
Position: Sri Lanka trail by 104 runs with two first innings wickets intact.
Toss: Sri Lanka.
Umpires: G Brathwaite, J Wilson; TV – N Duguid.