Thu, 09 Dec 2021

West Indies crumble against spin in pursuit of 348

ESPNCricInfo
24 Nov 2021, 22:43 GMT+10

Stumps Sri Lanka 191 for 4 dec (Karunaratne 83, Mathews 69*, Warrican 2-42, Cornwall 2-60) and 386 lead West Indies 230 and 53 for 6 (Ramesh 4-17, Embuldeniya 2-18) by 296 runs

Joshua Da Silva was at the crease at the start and end of play on the fourth day in Galle, but in between, 11 wickets fell - seven of them belonging to the visitors - as Sri Lanka's spinners ran roughshod through the West Indian top order to leave them reeling at 52 for 6 at stumps. They need a further 296 runs to win the Galle Test with just four wickets in hand.

Much like the first innings, it was the loopy offspin of Ramesh Mendis that did much of the damage to the visitors, as he accounted for four more West Indian wickets to take his match tally to seven. Lasith Embuldeniya grabbed the other two wickets that fell on Wednesday. Sri Lanka's spinners have so far been responsible for 15 of the 16 wickets in this match.

Chief among the visitors' problems has been their inability to pick the straighter one that goes on with the arm. Sri Lankan spin coach Piyal Wijetunge had spoken of the lack of control shown by his spinners after the end of play on the third day, and he would have been much happier with their showing the following day.

Each of Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Kyle Mayer and Jason Holder was done in with the Lankan spinners' straighter variant, with Mendis accounting for three of them. Aside from Mayer, who left alone one from Mendis that darted in to trap him plumb in front of the middle stump, the other three were all castled one way or the other.

The speed and nature of the collapse - they were 18 for 6 in 13 overs - was in sharp contrast to the ease with which Sri Lanka's batters had dealt with the West Indian spinners earlier.

While there were some nervy moments early on when the Sri Lanka batters seemed hellbent on sweeping, and rather unsuccessfully at that - Pathum Nissanka gloved an attempted sweep to leg slip, while both Oshada Fernando and Dimuth Karunaratne should have been out sweeping if the West Indies had opted to review. Sri Lanka's innings gathered some momentum because of Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews.

Both notched up half-centuries to help set a target of 348 - incidentally, the highest total successfully chased in Galle is 268, by Sri Lanka against New Zealand in 2019 - but more impressively, they did so at a fair clip.

On a surface where many batters struggled, Karunaratne's 83 came off just 104 deliveries, while Mathews scored 69 off 84 balls. Their 123-run stand, meanwhile, came in 150 balls.

More to follow...

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