The Report by Andrew Fidel Fernando
Two dashing innings – a confident 87 off 117 from Kusal Mendis, and a stroke filled 62 off 70 from Niroshan Dickwella – propelled Sri Lanka to a 287-run lead in St Lucia, edging them ahead in this match. Although Shannon Gabriel bowled spiritedly through the fourth day, collecting figures of 6 for 57 to take his match haul to 11 for 116, Sri Lanka still have two wickets remaining in their second innings. Only twice in this century have West Indies chased a higher score for victory. That the visitors found themselves in such a healthy position is a testament to their fight on day four, having found themselves effectively four wickets down with a lead of only one run, in the first hour of play.
Two big partnerships built this Sri Lanka innings. The first was the 117-run fifth-wicket stand between Mendis and a lucky Dinesh Chandimal, who could have been out twice on his way to 39 off 112 balls. The second was the 99-run association between Dickwella and Roshen Silva, after Mendis and Chandimal had fallen within 10 overs of one another. Silva made his first significant score of the series, hitting 48 off 115, while Mendis and Dickwella batted more aggressively at the other end. Both Silva and Dickwella were out to the second new ball, but late in the day, Suranga Lakmal and Akila Dananjaya put on a useful unbeaten partnership amounting to 27. As that second new ball is only nine overs old, however, West Indies will hope to knock out the last two wickets before the lead stretches to 300 on the fifth morning.
Gabriel has been the best bowler in the series by a distance, and Cricket West Indies’ recent decision to switch to the Dukes cricket ball appears to be suiting him well. He sometimes attempted to intimidate the batsmen, sending plenty at the ribs and at the throat, but it was the ball that he seamed in from outside off stump that brought him the most joy on day four. He struck night watchman Kasun Rajitha in front of the stumps in his first over of the day, then bowled Mendis off an inside edge much later. Roshen Silva was also out to a ball that bounced and nipped back at him more than he expected – Shane Dowrich snatching a tough chance close to the ground after Silva had gloved it.
Summarized scores: Sri Lanka 253 and 334 for 8 (Dananjaya 16*, Lakmal 7*, Gabriel 6-57, Roach 2-75) lead West Indies 300 by 287 runs