SRI LANKA GAIN THE UPPER HAND DESPITE GABRIEL’S FIFER CPL T20

SRI LANKA GAIN THE UPPER HAND DESPITE GABRIEL’S FIFER

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By Author Cricket-21 Team

2nd Test, Windies vs Sri Lanka, Gros Islet

Day 4, Stumps- Sri Lanka 253 [Chandimal 119*(186), S Gabriel 5/59] and 334/8 [K.Mendis 87(117), S.Gabriel 6/57]

vs  Windies 300 [D.S.Smith 61(176), Powell 27(45), L.Kumara 4/86]

Shannon Gabriel got to his career best bowling figures in an innings with 6/57 on Day Four. However, his spirited bowling could not stop Sri Lanka from gaining a 287 run lead with two second innings wickets still in hand. Gabriel’s 11 wickets in the game is the most that any Windies bowler has claimed against Sri Lanka in Tests.

He was at it from the first over of the day, trapping the night-watchman Rajitha LBW with a quick straight delivery. The next two fell by the time Gabriel and Roach finished their first spell. Dhananjaya de Silva gifted his wicket off the last ball of Gabriel’s over, edging a wide delivery to first slip while attempting to play a big drive.

The opener Udawatte avoided a pair on debut, but he was guilty of getting out after a decent start. The left-hander lobbed a full ball to mid-off for an easy catch. Sri Lanka were now reduced to 49/4, just eight overs into the day and with a lead of just one run.

The next four batsmen played well to recover the innings, scoring 236 runs with vital half-centuries from Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis.

The fifth-wicket partnership off 117 between Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal shifted the momentum in Sri Lanka’s favour. The Sri Lankan captain came out to bat amidst allegations of ball tampering after footage was retrieved of him putting something into his mouth and immediately applying saliva on the ball. 

Despite being at the centre of controversy, Chandimal batted sensibly and kept one end intact while his partner Kusal Mendis went after the Windies bowling. Mendis had a confident manner about his batting, continuing the good form from his hundred in Trinidad.

Like any good Asian batsmen, Mendis swept well against the spinners. By the end of innings, he scored 35 off 31 against the Windies slower bowlers, 32 off which were on the leg side. Despite his string efforts agains the spinners his best shots were off the pacer Roach, he bowled two balls on his pads and flicked them majestically off the front foot for sixes.

At the other end, Chandimal was surviving on the edge. The Windies pacers were over-stepping frequently, with as many as eight no-balls on day four, two of which cost them two wickets, one chance each to take out Mendis and Chandimal.

After getting to a hundred partnership, the Windies finally got a wicket. Chandimal slashed at a wide delivery from Roach and was caught behind. Umpire Ian Gould’s decision was not out, but Dowrich’s confident appeal pushed Holder to take the DRS which overturned the decision. 

Roshen Silva and Kusal Mendis played through to the rain break which took another hour of the Test match. Just eight balls after the rain delay the Windies dismissed the set batsman Kusal Mendis. His feet were stuck on the crease while attempting to fend off a back-of-length delivery from Gabriel. The ball took the inside edge and crashed into the stumps. It was Gabriel’s most important wicket in the innings, that of the highest-run-getter in the series thus far. 

Niroshan Dickwella had an easier task ahead of him compared to the departing Kusal Mendis. The ball was old, the Windies bowlers were tired in the last session of play and 20 overs remained for the new ball.

The Sri Lankan wicket-keeper took the role of aggressor, scoring freely for his 70-ball 62. With this innings, Dickwella clinched the record for the highest score by a Sri Lankan keeper-bat in the Windies. 

Like Kusal Mendis, he went after the spinners, scoring 22 off 20 against them. The left-hander was especially severe against Bishoo who he took for 17 runs in 16 balls.

At the other end, Roshen Silva did well to keep the partnership going. He gave Shai Hope a good chance at point, only for him to drop it.

Once the new ball was available, Gabriel came back into attack and picked up a wicket off his first ball. Roshen Silva edged one down the leg and Shane Dowrich after a picturesque one-handed dive to his left, took a brilliant catch to complete Gabriel’s fifth wicket of the day, his 10th of the game. 

In the first ball of his second over with the new ball, Gabriel picked up Dickwella too, who looked beaten for pace.

The next pair of Lakmal and Dananjaya added 27 more runs before Sri Lanka finished with a lead of 287 runs.  

The Windies are not out of the game yet, just last year they chased down England’s target of 322 at Leeds. All three results are open on day five when Sri Lanka will come out to bat at 334/8

Photo Credit - CWI Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography

 

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