Herath restores Sri Lanka dominance
Rangana Herath bowled Sri Lanka back into the dominant position achieved by Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal's double-century stand and squandered somewhat by a collapse that cost them their last seven wickets for 59 runs. At the end of an action-packed second day, West Indies were 66 for 2, trailing Sri Lanka by 418 runs.
The quick demolition of Sri Lanka's lower order raised West Indies' spirits when they came out to bat, and the openers got off to a solid start against the quicks, with three fours coming off the second over, bowled by a Nuwan Pradeep erring generously on the full side. But Herath, introduced as early as the sixth over, pulled West Indies back down to earth with his ability to beat both edges.
In his very first over, he had Kraigg Brathwaite adjudged lbw with one that turned sharply from leg to off, only for Hawkeye to rule the ball had pitched marginally outside leg stump. In his next over he sent down the arm ball, which snaked past the inside edge of Brathwaite's defensive bat and rapped into his front pad. This time the batsman didn't even review.
Shai Hope was next to go, bowled by a beauty. The opener came half-forward in defence, inward drift causing him to open up, and the ball turned past his outside edge to clip off stump.
Herath caused Darren Bravo problems as well, beating his outside edge on a couple of occasions and causing him to inside-edge sharply turning deliveries close to short leg. Bravo survived the testing spell in the company of Marlon Samuels, but both of them will have to come out and begin all over again on the third morning.
The day began with Chandimal and Karunaratne extending their overnight stand to 238 - the highest by any third-wicket pair in Galle - after which Chandimal added a further 86 with Angelo Mathews. Sri Lanka were 425 for 3, and a 500-plus total looked like a formality. Their sights, perhaps, were set on 600, but they only managed 484.
The slide began with tea around the corner, when Chandimal slapped Jerome Taylor straight to cover, against the run of play. In his next over, Taylor straightened one from around the wicket to produce an edge from the debutant Milinda Siriwardana.
First ball after tea, Mathews was back in the dressing room. Jason Holder banged one in short, and Mathews, getting into an awkward position while trying to fend the ball into the leg side, popped back a simple return catch. Devendra Bishoo then sent back Dhammika Prasad and Rangana Herath off successive deliveries, before Kusal Perera, looking for quick runs, played on to Shannon Gabriel. The final wicket fell to Bishoo, who finished with four wickets as Nuwan Pradeep miscued a slog to deep midwicket.
The tumble of wickets must have left West Indies wondering how good their position might have been had they held their catches. On day one, with Chandimal on 11, Taylor had put down a relatively straightforward chance while backtracking from mid-on. In the tenth over of the second morning, Chandimal cut Shannon Gabriel to backward point, where Jermaine Blackwood spilled the ball after getting both hands to the overhead chance. Chandimal was on 82 at that point.
Bishoo had struggled on a slow pitch, the batsmen easily negotiating his legspin off the back foot, often making length balls look like short balls. In the third over after lunch, he managed to draw Mathews forward and find his edge, only for Jason Holder to put him down at slip.
Later, Hope dropped Prasad at backward point, taking West Indies' total of spilled chances to five, including Bravo letting off Lahiru Thirimanne on the first day.
Coming in to bat at 339 for 3 - it was the first time since August 2014 that he had walked in with Sri Lanka's score past 200 - gave Mathews license to play his shots. He hit two fours off Bishoo in the first over after tea - admittedly off bad balls - and continued going after the spinners after Holder dropped him. He pulled Bishoo for another four, ran down the pitch to Marlon Samuels to launch him over wide long-on, and scored his runs at a strike rate of above 100 until he reached 32.
Chandimal was a little more sedate at the other end, but got enough scoring opportunities, with Kemar Roach and Taylor both feeding his favourite square-cut, and the latter shot getting him to 150.
In the morning session, Samuels dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne 14 short of a double-hundred. The wicket was a result of the slowness of the pitch, which Karunaratne had dealt with expertly till then, picking the right lengths to drive and even then refusing to go hard at the ball. For once he jabbed at the ball, a short one from Samuels that stopped on him, and ended up lobbing a return catch to the offspinner.
Till then a double-hundred had seemed inevitable. The ball was only 10 overs old at start of play, but there was little of the seam movement that had been in evidence on the first morning. The runs came at a good clip, with Karunaratne pulling Taylor to the square leg boundary in the fifth over of the morning before driving him through mid-off for another four to bring up his 150.
At the other end Kemar Roach, bowling without either the seam movement or the pace he generated on the first day, conceded two fours in two overs to Chandimal. Taylor and Roach went out of the attack, and Gabriel, who replaced Roach, saw an edge from Karunaratne fly through the vacant slip area before Blackwood put down Chandimal. In his next over, Gabriel produced the only other moment of discomfort for a Sri Lankan batsman in the session when he straightened one past Chandimal's edge.
Chandimal was not unduly deterred. Following Bishoo's introduction, he stepped down the track and whipped him away wide of mid-on, and in the next over flat-batted Gabriel over extra cover to bring up his hundred. It was his second in a row at the venue, after his match-turning 162* against India two months ago.