Steady Brathwaite, Hope keep WI chances alive

Another dour session of play unfolded in Gros Islet as Windies scored 53 runs in the post Lunch period to take the total to 108 for 4 at Tea on the final day. The contest may have gone to the final session of the match with all possibilities open, but the way the game has gone so far, it seems obvious that while Sri Lanka are going for a win – needing six wickets in the last three hours, Windies are playing for a draw.

With the ball getting older, the pacers aren’t getting much help. Along with Akila Dananjaya, the three pacers have bowled a probing line, but with Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope refusing to fall for their bait, there was no success coming Sri Lanka’s way. While Brathwaite dropped anchor, scoring only 12 runs in the two-hour period after Lunch, Hope kept the scoreboard moving and helped Windies past the 100-run mark.

The only wicket to fall in the session was that of Shane Dowrich, who squared himself up and edged a Dananjaya delivery to slips. The ball did have some extra bounce to unsettle the batsmen, but it was largely the tangle he got himself into that proved to be his undoing.

Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka refused to declare the innings and played till getting bowled out. They could only add eight runs to their overnight score before Shannon Gabriel bagged the last two wickets and finished with match figures of 13 for 121.

Windies too found themselves struggling early as previous innings’ half-centurion Devon Smith departed early by edging a drive to the slip fielder. Kasun Rajitha bagged another wicket two balls later when Kieran Powell flicked a delivery off his pads to the square leg fielder to leave the hosts reeling at 8 for 2 in the 296-run chase.

Hope, started off well but got hurt on his ribs by a sharply rising delivery by Lahiru Kumara. He went off the field injured and returned after the fall of Dowrich’s wicket. Kumara’s first spell even had Roston Chase in a lot of trouble. He was beaten several times but survived against him for a while. Nonetheless, a fine inswinging delivery by Suranga Lakmal had him castled less than five minutes before Lunch.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 253 & 342 (Kusal Mendis 87, Niroshan Dickwella 62; Shannon Gabriel 8-62, Kemar Roach 2-78) lead Windies 300 & 108/4 (Kraigg Brathwaite 44*; Kasun Rajitha 2-23) by 240 runs

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