Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, has singled out Suranga Lakmal for special praise after Sri Lanka's comeback with the ball on the second day at Pallekele. "He [Lakmal] has bowled extremely well although he's got only wicket," Bayliss said. "He is the least experienced in the team but I thought he's probably been one of our better bowlers."
Lakmal had dismissed Chris Gayle with the first ball of the Test but went wicketless on Thursday. Sri Lanka grabbed three West Indies wickets in the 167 minutes play possible on the second day to reduce them to 244-5, after they resumed overnight at 134-2.
Bayliss said bowling in partnerships was the reason for Sri Lanka's success and where Lakmal excelled. "He was able to bowl the ball in the right areas and kept it fairly tight this morning," Bayliss said, "and we managed to take a wicket or two at the other end. That's what you've got to do; bowl in partnerships."
Bayliss defended Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara's decision to bowl first, saying there was a chance to take a few early wickets on the first morning. "We did that with the first ball [take a wicket]," he said, "but we needed to take three or four early wickets, and on this occasion we didn't quite bowl the way we would have liked.
"We had a discussion last night that we didn't bowl as we should have done on that wicket. It's good to see the guys come back today and put the ball in the right spots."
He was less emphatic on Sangakkara's choice to wait till the 59th over to introduce Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner. "There's no reason for it," Bayliss said. "You'll have to ask the captain because I am not sure. Sanga made a judgement that the other boys were doing the job for him at that stage.
"After the first day, when we didn't bowl enough balls in the right areas, we wanted to at least keep it tight and put a little bit of pressure on the batters that way. At times, the captain has to make an on-field decision. It's not necessary to bowl someone in the team just because they are there."
With the fickle weather conditions, Bayliss was uncertain whether a result could be obtained with three days of the Test remaining. "There's still enough time in the game as it stands now," he said. "From our point of view if we can take the last five wickets and bat big that would be our plan and then hope to knock them over in the second innings. But with the weather around I am not sure whether it's going to be possible."
Sri Lanka struck two quick blows at the end of the day's play, but before that Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brendan Nash both got half-centuries. Chanderpaul's was his first of the series and it took him 145 balls to get to 54. "Nash has been batting well in the tour so far. He's got three fifties. I haven't got any, so I had to play a different game," Chanderpaul said. "I couldn't play as freely as the other guys because they have been scoring lots of runs. I don't discuss personal goals but hopefully I can get some runs on the tour."
Chanderpaul said the game was still in the balance and West Indies had a chance to win. "There's still a lot of work to be done," he said, "and if we can get Sri Lanka out twice that'll be good. We'll try to bat as much as we can and then have a go."