Gayle triple-century lights up Galle
Sri Lanka 54 for 1 trail West Indies 580 for 9 dec (Gayle 333, Nash 64, Darren Bravo 58, Barath 50, Mendis 6-169) by 526 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A mesmerising late spell from Ajantha Mendis was not enough to overshadow a Chris Gayle triple-century on the second day of the first Test in Galle, as the West Indies opener's 333 took the visitors to a daunting first innings total of 580 for 9 declared. Gayle etched his name in history when he became just the fourth batsman after Bradman, Lara and Sehwag to make two 300-plus scores in Tests, and celebrated the milestone not by lying down on the pitch as he did yesterday, but by kneeling with his arms aloft, grateful that he had given his side the perfect platform to pursue their first ever Test win on Sri Lankan soil.
Yesterday Gayle broke the back of the Sri Lankan attack with a blistering double-ton. Today, he took careful aim at the records. First to go was the stadium top score. Mahela Jayawardene's 237 was eclipsed in the morning session by a subdued Gayle, who seemed to be a more determined version of the swashbuckling dynamo that had set the ground alight on day one - he added just nine more boundaries in over two sessions of batting after smashing 26 fours and eight sixes on the first day. Soon after lunch Gayle bettered the highest score by a West Indies batsman in the subcontinent - Rohan Kanhai's 256 in Kolkata - a record that had stood for 48 years. Following the tea break, he surpassed Younis Khan's 313 to make the highest score by any batsman against Sri Lanka as well as improving on his own previous best of 317 a few deliveries later.
The first milestone of the day however, was not Gayle's, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul's, as he went past 9000 Test runs before being undone by Suraj Randiv's bounce on 32. Brendan Nash then hunkered down alongside Gayle as they accumulated intelligently, picking the gaps to good effect and hitting the odd boundary to keep the scoreboard moving at a decent clip. The pair cemented West Indies' absolute dominance over the game with a 167-run partnership for the fourth wicket and, almost as crucially, ensured that the hosts were made to toil in the sapping Galle heat for two more sessions. Still a little dazed by Gayle's first day ballistics, Sri Lanka were ground into the dust by a determined display from the West Indies top order.
With the team flagging, Mendis somehow produced an inspired burst to run through the remainder of the West Indies order, and hastened a declaration that at one stage seemed light years away. Mendis first had Nash trapped plumb in front for 64 with a straighter delivery, before repeating the dose for Dwayne Bravo in his next over, this time with a googly. Gayle's marathon knock finally came to an end when he was bowled by a terrific Mendis carrom ball, and when Darren Sammy departed the very next ball, the end was finally nigh for West Indies. Mendis picked up one more wicket to make it a six-wicket haul, and Suraj Randiv added one more to his tally, before Sammy ended the innings with a declaration that was long overdue.
Tillekeratne Dilshan made matters worse for the hosts when he lamely lobbed Andre Russell's second ball towards Shane Shillingford at mid on to leave the hosts at 6 for 1 and give Russell his first Test wicket, but Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara came out playing his shots, and his unbeaten 32-ball 33 would have given the hosts hope, especially if the pitch remains good for batting on day three.