West Indies fold quickly on the third morning but not before taking a 102-run lead
Lunch Sri Lanka 67 for 1 (Oshada 34*, Thirimanne 28*, Roach 1-17) and 169 trail West Indies 271 (Cornwall 61, Lakmal 5-47) by 35 runs
Despite losing captain Dimuth Karunaratne cheaply, Lahiru Thirimanne and Oshada Fernando put on an unbeaten 59-run second-wicket stand to whittle down the deficit to 35 runs by lunch on the third day of the first Test in Antigua.
Oshada has been the more proactive of the two, his relatively brisk 34 coming off 52 deliveries – though it hasn’t been an innings without its share of fortune. Of his five boundaries, two were of the undeniably streaky variety – edged through the slip cordon – while a medium-difficulty chance at leg slip was also grassed when he was on 16.
More encouraging for the visitors would be that, aside from those few lucky moments, Oshada has looked rather fluent. Having come to the crease after Karunaratne had edged a drive to the slips, he began his innings with welcome urgency, rotating the strike before growing into more expansive play later on. A disdainful pull off Alzarri Joseph in particular would have gone a long way in boosting his confidence.
At the other end, Thirimanne continued on from his first-innings grind, working the ball around the ground for the most part. His two boundaries, though – one through mid-off and another pinged through the cover point – showed what he’s capable of should he get his eye in.
West Indies would still be happy with their effort in the field. While Kemar Roach continued to pepper that line outside off, swinging the ball both ways – and accounting for Karunaratne – more promising was the spell of Shannon Gabriel, who looked to have shaken off the cobwebs that plagued him in the first innings.
Jason Holder and Joseph, too, showed good control, while Rahkeem Cornwall continued to be difficult to get away with his extra bounce.
That said, it was undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s session after it had taken just 15 minutes for them to pick the final two West Indian wickets, ensuring that there would be no continuation of the resistance that had so frustrated them the previous day.
Having ridden his luck to an extent the previous evening, Cornwall looked keen to carry on his aggressive approach. However, he failed to take heed of the swing Vishwa Fernando was conjuring in the second over of the day, the seamer’s inswinger from wide outside off careening through the gate after Cornwall had attempted a flamboyant drive. Cornwall top-scored for the hosts, making 61 off 85 deliveries, with John Campbell, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers and Joshua Da Silva the other key contributors.
A couple of balls later, another Vishwa inswinger would trap Gabriel lbw, the review going in vain as the innings came to a close.