Suranga Lakmal took 4/94 but the captain’s century and the allrounder’s 73 kept the home team strong
Lunch: West Indies 354 (Brathwaite 126, Mayers 49, Cornwall 73, Lakmal 4-94, Chameera 3-69) v Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka removed the three remaining West Indies wickets, but it took them all of the morning session, and cost them 67 further runs, as Kraigg Brathwaite moved to 126, and Rahkeem Cornwall also strode to his second half-century of the series, making 73 off 92.
Although Sri Lanka had a ball that was only six overs old when they began the day, West Indies still saw out the first hour unscathed, and it was Cornwall that did most of the damage during this period, flicking, punching, driving and sometimes edging fortuitously – Sri Lanka now visibly frustrated that the eighth wicket had taken them so long.
Shortly before Cornwall got out, soon after drinks, he and Brathwaite celebrated their century partnership – the first of the innings. The stand had lifted West Indies from what seemed like it could be a modest score, to a very good one, even on a track as flat as this.
Brathwaite’s contribution, typically, was 26 off 96 (while Cornwall made 73). He had kept himself on the backburner of every partnership he was part of in this innings, and in doing so, preserved himself to make the most substantial contribution to the innings. Here was a batsman who batted to a plan, and stuck unshakably through it, even when West Indies appeared to be in crisis.
Eventually Cornwall tried one shot too many and holed out to mid-on to give Suranga Lakmal his fourth wicket, before Brathwaite was joined at the crease by Kemar Roach, who gamely played out 35 deliveries safely before he edged Dushmantha Chameera to the wicketkeeper. In Chameera’s next over, Brathwaite himself was dismissed finally – after 514 minutes of resistance – when he dragged a seaming Chameera delivery into his pads, with the ball then ricocheting into the stumps. This was off the 310th ball that Brathwaite had faced. He had only been dropped once, on 37, but that had been an exceedingly difficult chance.
Lakmal’s 4 for 94 stood out as the best performance for Sri Lanka’s bowlers, but Chameera’s two late wickets also brought his figures to a respectable 3 for 69. Vishwa Fernando picked up only the wicket of Kyle Mayers soon after lunch on day one, but he was Sri Lanka’s most economical bowler, conceding runs at 2.62 over his 27 overs.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf