Late strikes give Sri Lanka the edge
West Indies 165 for 5 (Darren Bravo 80, Dwayne Bravo 1*, Baugh 4*) trail Sri Lanka 387 for 9 dec (Sangakkara 150, Samaraweera 80, Roach 5-100) by 222 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A masterful 80 by Darren Bravo was all that stood in the way of Sri Lanka, as they closed out the third day of the second Test 222 runs ahead. Darren Bravo was assured as he notched up his second half-century in as many innings in Tests, even as his more illustrious team-mates struggled to come to terms with the skill and variation of the Sri Lankan attack. The visitors looked good to end the day just three down as the gloom set in over Premadasa Stadium, but a double-strike from Tillakaratne Dilshan minutes before stumps meant Sri Lanka were still well in the hunt for a win and the visitors were left to ponder how they might save the Test.
Darren Bravo was difficult to tie down in his 129-ball stay, happy to settle into a steady rhythm of singles for the majority of the afternoon, but taking the attack to the spinners and forcing Kumar Sangakkara to adjust the field when it became too tight for his liking. He hit four sixes and they may as well have all been carbon copies of each other. Thrice he waltzed down to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, getting to the pitch of the ball to launch him over long-on and long-off, while Mendis, too, was treated to a lofted wallop that sailed over the ropes in the same area.
Darren Bravo fell in the penultimate over of the day to a stunning catch. Having watched Brendan Nash perish two balls prior, Darren Bravo tried to hit out against Dilshan, but his attempted slog over midwicket - perhaps the first rash stroke he played all day - took the leading edge and looped in the air on the off side. Herath, who was fielding at backward point, ran towards cover and flung himself horizontally, arms outstretched, and the ball landed in his palms mid-flight and his ecstatic teammates converged to congratulate him.
Sri Lanka looked to step up the scoring in the morning, as they attempted to force a win in the rain-hit match, declaring at 387 for 9, after the tail had chipped in with some valuable runs. Kumar Sangakkara departed early on, having hit a couple of imperious boundaries off Kemar Roach, and Prasanna Jayawardene's 34 guided Sri Lanka steadily towards a formidable first-innings total.
Herath batted well in the company of the other lower-order batsmen, and exploited some negative field placements to make some quick runs, tempering occasional aggression with a series of canny ones and twos. He remained unbeaten on 24 when the declaration came and the hosts had left themselves just enough time before lunch to knock over Adrian Barath.
Chris Gayle began the afternoon session with some typically brutal strikes off the wayward Suranga Lakmal and his 30-ball stay was littered with glimpses of the kind of arrogance with which he flayed the Sri Lankan attack during his triple-ton in Galle. Gayle drilled boundaries through cover and point, but was not always his domineering self, as he survived a couple of close lbw shouts off Lakmal, who bowled the odd good delivery amid the rubbish. Gayle was out hooking for 31, top-edging a steepling bouncer to Angelo Mathews, who shuffled around at the square-leg boundary to snaffle the chance, giving Lakmal his first wicket in Tests.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul didn't last too long, falling to a Mendis legbreak and Nash never looked comfortable at the crease during his strained 29. The spinners tormented him outside the off stump while Lakmal, too, caused some nervous moments with the short ball. He was given a reprieve on 15 when a well-directed bouncer from Lakmal induced a top- edge, but Prasanna Jayawardene's valiant effort - running full tilt towards backward-square for about thirty metres - was not enough to end his stay, the ball brushing past the wicketkeeper's gloves as he put in a full-length dive. He was eventually adjudged lbw by Asad Rauf, giving Dilshan the first of his two quick wickets. Bad light intervened soon after Darren Bravo had departed and caused yet another premature end to play, with two days remaining in the Test.