Paranavitana, Mahela ensure draw on final day
West Indies 580 for 9 dec (Gayle 333, Mendis 6-169) drew with Sri Lanka 378 (Sangakkara 73, Mahela 59, Shillingford 4-123) and 241 for 4 (Paranavitana 95, Mahela 58)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A lacklustre post-lunch performance from West Indies, and rain clouds that once again swooped over Galle in the afternoon, ensured that Sri Lanka held on for a draw in the first Test in Galle. The visitors were stiff in the field, allowing too many easy runs and despite the fall of two wickets in the afternoon session to go with two from the morning, West Indies failed to make sufficient inroads into the Sri Lankan line-up.
The debutant seamer Andre Russell lacked the fire and intensity to cause any concern after lunch as the well-set pair of Tharanga Paranavitana and Mahela Jayawardene negotiated the early overs of the afternoon with relative ease in comparison to the discomfort caused by Kemar Roach in the morning. While Russell maintained a consistent line and length, he lacked the pace and movement to pose a threat, and even the return of Roach could not make an impact.
Shane Shillingford too, was handled confidently in the afternoon, despite the offspinner's dismissal of Paranavitana for 95, midway through the session. Darren Sammy, who had dropped Paranavitana off the same bowler earlier on, held on to this one at slip, after the batsman had looked edgy in the 90s. Mahela, though, who had been tormented by Shillingford through the Test, began to play him with more assurance, twice punching him past point off the back foot, and finding singles and twos in the vacant outfield as Sammy pushed for wickets with men around the bat.
Mahela progressed to his second half-century of the match with a straight six off part-timer Brendan Nash, but fell to him two overs later, tamely chipping back to the bowler when he had looked good for a long innings. Thilan Samaraweera struck three fours in his 19 and was looking good in the company of Angelo Mathews before rain intervened once again, forcing the teams off the field and shutting the door on a riveting Test match.
It was not always such smooth sailing for Sri Lanka on the final day, though. An electric spell from Roach in the morning had blasted out Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara. Roach sizzled through that opening burst, hurling down two hostile maidens to Paranavitana before sending Dilshan's off stump cartwheeling with a fiery yorker. Sangakkara fell in Roach's next over, edging outside the off stump, to leave Sri Lanka tottering at 110 for two before Paranavitana and Mahela combined to claw and scrap their way to lunch. The pair survived a tense spell from Shillingford, whose fizzing, biting deliveries did everything but make the crucial breakthrough for the visitors, and took control of the situation after the lunch break.
Despite the stalemate, West Indies had positives to take into the second Test following their impressive work in the first innings. Sri Lanka's second-innings batting and Ajantha Mendis' spell on the second day was the silver lining in what was otherwise a bleak Test for them. West Indies' strong show completed the week of the underdog in world cricket as they came away with laudable draws against more fancied opponents, just as New Zealand and Pakistan did against India and South Africa respectively.