West Indies 414 for 8 dec (Dowrich 125*, Kumara 4-95) and 223 for 7 dec (Powell 88, Kumara 3-70) beat Sri Lanka 185 (Chandimal 44, Cummins 3-39) and 226 (Mendis 102, Chase 4-15) by 226 runs
Sri Lanka hurtled to defeat either side of lunch on the final day, losing the last five of their wickets within 25 deliveries, for eight runs, as West Indies went 1-0 up in the three-Test series. The telling blow had been struck earlier in the day, by Shannon Gabriel, who has been outstanding in this Test. He pitched a ball just short-of-a-length to centurion Kusal Mendis, got the ball to erupt, and drew the outside edge. Though for much of the morning, wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich had been collecting balls at knee height or below, so menacing was this delivery, that he had had to complete the catch with arms outstretched over his head.
Of the other Sri Lanka batsmen seen on day five, only Lahiru Gamage the nightwatchman showed any substantial resistance. He played out 49 balls for three runs, deadbatting almost anything that came his way, until he was eventually trapped in front of the stumps by a Devendra Bishoo googly. Everyone else fell in a heap.
The win was special because West Indies’ bowlers were outstanding on a pitch that was never particularly treacherous. In the fourth innings, Roston Chase finished up with the best figures of 4 for 15, though two of those wickets were those of tailenders. More impressive were Bishoo, who took 3 for 48, and Gabriel, who was intense in patches in both innings. His match haul was 4 for 100 – figures that do not do him justice.
Upon resumption in the morning, Mendis had been secure, moving smartly to his fifth Test century, with a flick to the deep square leg boundary. He celebrated with little fuss, knowing perhaps that his team still needed many more runs from him. It wasn’t to be. That Gabriel ball was nigh unplayable, and it was only because he was in good touch that he got an edge to it. No other Sri Lanka batsman crossed fifty in this Test – woeful returns, given the nature of the surface.
Of Sri Lanka’s day five dismissals though, perhaps it was Dinesh Chandimal’s that was the most reprehensible. He had resumed his innings on 15, having retired ill the previous day, with early symptoms of sunstroke. He was cautious for the majority of his day five stay, only venturing a boundary off a Bishoo long hop. However, he lost his temperament and his wicket an over before lunch.
Aiming to slam a Chase length ball over midwicket, he ended up miscuing the stroke badly, and looping a catch to near mid-on, where a running Kraigg Brathwaite completed the catch. Later that over, Niroshan Dickwella was struck in front of the stumps by a slider. He burned Sri Lanka’s final review in desperation, out for 19.
The tail then went quickly. Herath gloved Bishoo short leg, not long after lunch. Next over, Chase had Nos. 10 and 11 caught behind – though Suranga Lakmal was unlucky to be given out, as he had not in fact made contact. Nevertheless, with all Sri Lanka’s specialist batsmen out before lunch, these were merely the last rites. The final margin of victory was an enormous 226 runs. The hosts having run the match from the second day onwards, it was a West Indies domination.