Led by a four-wicket haul from offspinner Ramesh Mendis, Sri Lanka ripped through West Indies in the final innings, leaving them at 52/6, at the end of day four, in pursuit of 348.
Mendis, along with Lasith Embuldeniya, was lethal on a turning pitch as both constantly attacked the stumps. With the straighter ball doing the maximum damage, the duo left West Indies’ batters in constant doubt. It started with skipper Kraigg Brathwaite misjudging the length against Mendis and being caught LBW while trying to pull. Jermaine Blackwood then tried to hit himself out of pressure but was caught at mid-on.
This was followed by a 14-ball period where both bowlers left West Indies reeling, picking up four wickets. While Shai Hope and Roston Chase were beaten on the inside edge, Kyle Mayers left a ball which wasn’t turning, and Jason Holder was bowled beaten on the outside edge. As West Indies slipped to 18/6, they were in danger of getting bowled out on the fourth day itself. But Nkrumah Bonner and Joshua de Silva held on until bad light forced an early end to the fourth day.
The finish mirrored the start of the day when play was delayed due to rain. But as soon it started, Praveen Jaywaickrama picked his fourth wicket to end West Indies’ first innings on 230, Sri Lanka wasted little time thereafter, despite being put under pressure early by West Indies’ spinners.
Both Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews played solid hands in reversing some of that pressure. With possible rain interruptions looming, the duo was aggressive in their intent in the second session where Sri Lanka added 147 runs in quick time. The duo had come together with Sri Lanka in a spot of bother initially but their 123-run stand helped the hosts wrest control completely.
On a pitch that was turning square, West Indies opened the attack with their premier spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, and he delivered immediately. Pathum Nissanka gloved one to leg slip where Shai Hope plucked a sharp chance. Nissanka wasted a review along with his wicket and West Indies kept the pressure on from the other end as well. Oshada Fernando fell to a straighter one from Jomel Warrican as Sri Lanka slipped to 39/2.
West Indies missed another wicket opportunity when they opted against a review with replays confirming that Karunaratne could have been LBW. He had previously been dropped at slip as well. With some luck going their way, both Karunaratne and Mathews used the sweep to good effect to add vital runs in an attacking stand.
After taking Sri Lanka to a position of control by Lunch, the duo upped the ante in the second session against the spinners. And with their chances paying off, West Indies were pushed onto the backfoot to try and contain the runs instead of attacking. It did little to stem the run flow though, and although Sri Lanka lost two wickets in quick succession, they amassed a sizable lead before Karunaratne declared the innings and let his spinners dictate terms subsequently.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 386 (Karunaratne 147, De Silva 61, Chase 5-83) and 191/4d (Dimuth Karunaratne 83, Angelo Mathews 69*) lead West Indies 230 (Mayers 45, Jayawickrama 4-40) and 52/6 (Ramesh Mendis 4-17) by 296 runs.