Sri Lanka hold advantage over spirited West Indies
West Indies 280 and 96 for 1 (Bravo 46*, Sarwan 34*) need another 341 runs to beat Sri Lanka 476 for 8 dec and 240 for 7 dec (Warnapura 62, Samaraweera 56)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
A refreshingly positive West Indian response to a record target of 437 from 113 overs has set up an intriguing conclusion at the Providence Stadium. The day belonged to Sri Lanka who, thanks to half-centuries from Malinda Warnapura and Thilan Samaraweera, declared at 240 for 7, but Dwayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan's 74-run stand in 18.3 overs gave West Indies a flicker of hope. Saving this Test remains a long, long way away for the hosts against a side that has a lethal bowler on a last-day track, however benign it may be.
Having dismissed West Indies for 280 early on - Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell averted the follow-on - Sri Lanka ventured into their second innings with quick runs in mind. Warnapura backed his first-innings century with an aggressive 62 and Samaraweera hit his first half-century in just shy of two years amid a series of cameos.
A negative Chris Gayle spread his field soon into the innings to try and block the boundaries, rather than stack the slip cordon and attempt to get wickets. Michael Vandort began with a series of pleasing square-drives and his favourite shot, the steer past gully, to lead a 43-run stand. Hardly giving Gayle a look as the captain brought himself on in the tenth over, Vandort tickled one to Denesh Ramdin down the leg side for 24 from 40 balls.
Warnapura played as he had on day one, scoring a lot of runs through gully and cover point. With no threat on a docile track, he continued to purvey the gaps in the off side with flowing drives and cuts. He went past fifty for the second time in the match with a slash through where slip should have been, just after Kumar Sangakkara (21 from 28) fell trying to work Bravo's slower ball over the infield in the 23rd over.
With a sizeable lead the Sri Lankans didn't refrain from playing extravagantly. A few bold shots later Warnapura went chasing a very wide delivery from Bravo. Mahela Jayawardene succeeded in timing some beauties in his brisk 33 before he became Sulieman Benn's first Test wicket, mistiming a pull to midwicket.
Taylor defeated Tillakaratne Dilshan for pace, shaving a full delivery in to trap him plumb in front, to leave Sri Lanka 171 for 5 in the 41st over. Chaminda Vaas was promoted with Prasanna Jayawardene given time to nurse a hamstring pull and put on 21 with Samaraweera before edging Benn.
Samaraweera shook off a first-innings duck with a purposeful 56 from 89 balls that comprised mainly tucks and flicks off some flat spin bowling into the yawning spaces. After Thilan Thushara lofted Benn down long-off's throat at 224 for 7 Samaraweera opened his shoulders to biff a flurry of boundaries over the infield and Jayawardene called his troops in.
Gayle didn't come out to open - perhaps because of his dismal record against Vaas - and in his place Bravo, who struggled against Muttiah Muralitharan in the first innings, faced up to the hard ball. The experiment worked better than West Indies' previous opening partnership, but only just. Instead of hanging his head after Bravo took him for two commanding boundaries Thushara pulled off a spectacular catch, tumbling at long leg, to account for Devon Smith's atrocious attempt at hooking Vaas.
Thushara struggled to locate his line with a fairly unprotected leg-side field and that allowed Sarwan early boundaries, including two perfect on-drives. There was hardly any swing so Sarwan and Bravo could shuffle and tuck the ball away; Bravo's pick-up flicks came with a flair not seen in this Test and his cover-driving was a thing of beauty. Bravo even took the liberty of a straight six off Rangana Herath, who remained wicketless in the match. With runs under his belt and time at the crease Bravo looked a whole new batsman. He finished unbeaten on 46 from 70 balls and Sarwan was brimming with confidence on a 55-ball 34.
A day that began with the hosts' last-wicket pair combining purposefully to avoid the follow-on ended with another combination adopting an aggressive approach. It was only the second fifty-run partnership for West Indies - Sarwan also featured in the one in the first dig - and West Indies' positive display was refreshing, especially Bravo's in a new role.
Jamie Alter is a staff writer at Cricinfo