Lasith Embuldeniya wangled out the wicket of Kraigg Brathwaite, but as he was the only batsman to fall, West Indies were still alive in the match at lunch – a draw still possible, a victory not out of the question, given their recent exploits in Chattogram. That Kyle Mayers, the hero of that epic chase, and Nkrumah Bonner, who partnered him in a game-changing 217-run partnership, were the unbeaten pair at the break may buoy the hosts further.
This surface wasn’t doing a lot for the bowlers either. It has slowed down substantially since day one, but has not become particularly spin-friendly – Embuldeniya only getting slowish turn, rather than bounce and zip off the surface. Suranga Lakmala and Dushmantha Chameera also bowled decent spells without producing any serious chances – the West Indies batsmen intent on seeing this session out, rather than reversing pressure. Bonner collected a couple of streaky boundaries behind the wicket early on, but was largely resolute in the last 90 minutes of the session, progressing to 50 off 127 balls. Mayers was not out on 6 off 23.
There were no major scares for West Indies in the first hour of play. Suranga Lakmal was accurate and miserly, but only beat the bat occasionally, as Brathwaite and Bonner left well, and covered what little seam movement there was on this now-slow track. In the fifth over of the day Bonner attempted to pull a short-ish Lakmal delivery for four and only managed to top edge it over the keeper, before he edged Vishwa Fernando past gully for four next over. This pair was largely unambitious, however. It wasn’t until the 16th over of the day that West Indies struck their first intentional boundary – Bonner drilling a Chameera full toss past mid on.
Embuldeniya had bowled his first few overs accurately, but was hardly menacing, and yet, managed to draw an uncharacteristic mistake from Brathwaite, about half an hour before lunch. Brathwaite ran down the pitch at Embuldeniya, perhaps hoping to gather some run-scoring momentum. He misjudged the delivery to do this to, however. Embuldeniya had bowled a quicker ball, and slid it on with the arm. Brathwaite, not getting to the pitch, had it pass between bat and pad and into leg stump. He was out for 22 off 124.
Mayers had little trouble negotiating the 23 deliveries that came his way. Bonner completed his half-century – the third of his Test career in as many matches – in the last over before lunch, pulling Chameera through midwicket before scoring a single to get to the milestone two balls later.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.