Rangana Herath bowled Sri Lanka into a formidable position in the Galle Test, picking up a six-wicket haul to force West Indies to follow on before striking late in the final session to dismiss Kraigg Brathwaite
Rangana Herath bowled Sri Lanka into a formidable position in the Galle Test, picking up a six-wicket haul to force West Indies to follow-on before striking late in the final session to end a promising innings from Kraigg Brathwaite. At stumps on day three, West Indies were two down for 67, still trailing by 166.
West Indies had lost Shai Hope in the tenth over of their second innings, the opener playing on while trying to whip Milinda Siriwardana against the turn from outside off stump and giving the debutant his first Test wicket. Following that, Brathwaite and Darren Bravo had looked comfortable in the middle with Herath - who had bowled 33 overs in the first innings and four with the new ball in the second - briefly off the field. The two put on 39 in 11 overs, including two straight sixes by Bravo off Siriwardana, before Herath returned.
It took him only nine balls to produce the wicket-taking delivery. For the second time in the match, Brathwaite pressed forward and played down the wrong line to one that skidded in with the angle; his review, against Marais Erasmus' instantaneously raised finger, came from wild hope rather than any degree of conviction. The ball had struck him in line and was destined to take out a big chunk of middle and leg stump.
In the first innings, West Indies' lower order had raised hopes of getting past the follow-on mark, with Kemar Roach adding 46 with Jerome Taylor for the eighth wicket and 34 with Devendra Bishoo for the ninth, but Herath ensured they fell 34 runs short. The left-arm spinner dismissed Roach and Shannon Gabriel off successive deliveries, in the second over after Sri Lanka took the second new ball, to finish with figures of 6 for 68. West Indies were bowled out for 251, and Angelo Mathews, perhaps mindful of the approach of dark clouds, asked them to bat again.
Damningly for the West Indies line-up, each of their batsmen apart from No. 11 Gabriel got into double figures, but only Darren Bravo made a half-century and their biggest partnership came from the eighth-wicket pair of Taylor and Roach.
Both lower-order stands followed the same template: Roach trusted in his defence, while Taylor and then Bishoo went for their shots. There were a few close shaves off Herath - he produced two edges, one off Roach and the other off Bishoo, that flew quickly past Mathews at slip, the first one close enough to count as a chance; and an lbw shout against Roach, given not out and reviewed, with ball-tracking suggesting the ball would have clipped leg stump. In between, though, the runs came quickly, with Taylor launching a big six and hitting two fours off one over from Tharindu Kaushal, and both Roach and Bishoo using the sweep well.
Herath, who had dismissed the openers on the second day, nearly struck with his seventh ball of the morning, sliding one in with the angle to brush the flap of Marlon Samuels' back pad while he shaped to cut. Believing rightly that the ball had made contact with pad before bat, Sri Lanka reviewed umpire Richard Illingworth's not-out decision, but ball-tracking saved Samuels, suggesting that the impact was only marginally in line with off stump.
But as with Brathwaite on day two, Herath didn't have to wait long after a referral had denied him a wicket. Samuels seemed to decide that an aggressive approach would serve him best against the left-arm spinner, and danced down the track three balls after the referral to smack him to the long-off boundary. Then, trying to pull the last ball of the over, Samuels found the ball skidding through a touch low to deflect into the stumps off his thigh.
At the other end, Darren Bravo was utterly becalmed against Herath during his first spell of the morning, making no attempt to force the left-arm spinner off his rhythm as he teased away with his changes of pace, trajectory and angle. In the 32nd over - the 11th of the morning - he beat his outside edge twice in two balls, once on the back foot from over the wicket and once on the front foot by angling one across from around the wicket.
Wary of overbowling his champion spinner, Mathews took Herath off after a seven-over spell, and Bravo broke free of the shackles, pulling successive long-hops from Kaushal - who bowled four no-balls in one over after replacing Herath - for four and six, and then square-driving successive balls from Nuwan Pradeep to the point boundary.
But in between, West Indies lost another wicket, Jermaine Blackwood's hard hands pushing at the ball away from his body to edge Dhammika Prasad to slip. With Herath looking like the only genuine threat among the Sri Lankan bowlers on this pitch, this was a poor piece of judgment from Blackwood against what was certainly a good ball, laden with extra bounce, but one that could have been easily left alone.
With three overs to go for lunch, Herath came back on, and struck immediately. Bravo had reached his half-century a couple of overs earlier, and maybe wanted to send Herath the message that he wouldn't be so easily tied down now. He went hard at a flighted ball wide of off stump, looking to hit with the turn, and didn't quite middle it, but the danger wasn't immediately apparent until Dinesh Chandimal appeared in the path of the ball, an apparition flying to his right from short midwicket to pull off a spectacular one-handed grab.
Prasad took his second wicket in the seventh over after lunch, reward for finding the perfect length to exploit Jason Holder's indecisive footwork. He had been driven for two fours in the over, both shots hit on the up. The second drive was particularly chancy, flying between and over point and cover, and Prasad landed his next ball along the same line but on a slightly shorter length. Holder went for another leaden-footed drive, and nicked to the keeper.
Denesh Ramdin was next to go, four overs later, slashing away from his body at Pradeep and providing Kusal Perera another catch behind the stumps. At this point, West Indies were 171 for 7, 114 runs short of the follow-on mark. The lower order fought hard, but the top order had left them too much to do.