Windies 300 [Shane Dowrich 55 (98)] vs Sri Lanka 253 & 34/1 [K.Perera 20(23), S.Gabriel 1/14]
A pumped up Sri Lankan team were able to round up the Windies innings for 300, just 47 runs ahead of their first innings score. The visiting openers scored 34 of the deficit for the loss of one wicket, before the umpires called to an end an eventful Day Three.
Controversy hit at the start of Day three. The Sri Lankans were accused of ball-tampering, and the Umpires resorted to changing the ball and awarded the home team five penalty runs.
After a discussion between match referee, Javagal Srinath, and Sri Lankan management, the visitors decided to take the field, but they did so “in protest”. This controversy ate into two hours of the Test match which was already delayed by intermittent rains.
The Sri Lankan management later sent out a strong message denying any allegations of ball tampering.
The tension was palpable once the Lankans took the field. Lahiru Kumara sent down three bouncers in the first three balls that he bowled, the last of which the Umpire called a no-ball as the third ball over the shoulder in the over.
The ball before that, Dickwella attempted to run-out Devon Smith after he ducked under the bouncer and went down the pitch after the ball was dead. Umpire Gould had a word with Dickwella post that incident. All this in the three balls that Kumara bowled off his unfinished over from Day two.
The Sri Lankan bowlers kept that intensity in 11.3 overs till the end of the session. Suranga Lakmal got the first wicket of the day when Shai Hope misjudged the bounce off a short one and was taken at first slip. It looked like he was expecting it to rise, but the ball took his edge at almost waist height.
A few overs after the break, Devon Smith was caught LBW playing down the wrong line to off-spinner Akila Dananjaya, the most expensive of the Sri Lankan bowlers. It was a long and slow innings from Smith, he managed just 61 runs in the 176 balls he faced. He scored just eight runs and hadn’t gotten a boundary in 42 balls he faced on Day three. However, he did his bit for his team having been part of two of the Windies' fifty partnerships in the game.
Devon Smith’s replacement at the crease, the keeper-batsman Shane Dowrich, took a more aggressive approach. Along with Roston Chase they went after the spinners. The intent was shown by Chase and carried on by Dowrich. It reached a crescendo when Dowrich scored a six and four off consecutive balls and the pair hustled 14 runs of the Akila Dananjaya over to take Windies over the 200 mark in the 70th over.
They continued their aggressive intent by adding close to 40 runs in the next ten overs. Sri Lanka decided to take the new ball as soon as it was available, and they picked up Chase in their first over with the new ball, ending the 78 run-stand between Dowrich and Chase. Umpires took tea an over later, the Windies just 12 runs away from Sri Lanka’s score and Dowrich six runs short of his fifty.
A few overs after the break, Dowrich got to fifty, following up his century in the first game with quick-fire runs here at Gros Islet. In the same over, he levelled the scores with a boundary off Rajitha.
Five balls later, he edged a short one from Lakmal to the keeper. The next two wickets were both of a similar flavor, Bishoo tried an ambitious drive outside off-stump but was taken in the slips and Holder was caught by the keeper while attempting to drive a delivery well outside-off-stump on the back-foot.
Maybe the Windies batsmen were a little too aggressive after they got the lead, it was in sharp contrast to their earlier timid approach to scoring runs. The last five managed just 59 runs, as Sri Lanka wrapped up the innings for 300.
When the visitors came out to bat, they scored at 3.7 runs per over, coming in with positive intent. Kusal Perera smashed three boundaries en route to his 20 off 23, but Gabriel brought the Windies back on track by picking his wicket. Bowling from around the wicket just as he did in the first innings, he got one to straighten enough to take edge through to the keeper.
Sri Lanka finished the day at 34/1, just need 13 runs to wipe out the Windies’ lead.