West Indies justify decision to bowl on seaming track
Lunch Sri Lanka 54 for 3 (Thirimanne 30*, Cornwall 1-7, Holder 1-2) vs West Indies
Three wickets in the opening session means the West Indies will by far be the happier of the two sides on the first morning in Antigua, though in truth they will likely be disappointed not to have troubled the Sri Lankan batsmen even more.
Having won the toss and put the visitors into bat, on a pitch that was expected to offer a fair bit of bounce and movement early on, it wouldn’t be until Dinesh Chandimal’s dismissal at the stroke of lunch that a seamer would pick up a wicket.
Jason Holder was the one to benefit, getting one to shape away from Chandimal, eliciting an edge so faint that the batsman reviewed the on-field decision and burning it in the process. That aside, the other two wickets to fall in the session were courtesy the spin of Rakheem Cornwall and a brilliant bit of fielding by captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
Cornwall’s breakthrough came about thanks to the extra bounce he was managing to generate; time and again he beat the edge, before finally getting Dimuth Karunaratne to play a straighter one square to short leg. Shortly after, Brathwaite would complete an outstanding piece from short mid-on, effecting a direct hit after Lahiru Thirimanne had called Oshada Fernando through for a quick drop-and-go single – the latter found well short of the crease.
Prior to that though, there appeared to be the danger of the West Indian bowlers wasting the new ball in rather favourable conditions. For most of the morning, the pair of Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel had failed to test the Lankan openers to any great degree. Gabriel in particular, who hadn’t bowled competitively since the tour of Bangladesh, was guilty of wavering lines and lengths. While he did get one or two past the edge, for the most part he was either too short, too wide, or overcorrecting too far down leg.
Roach, while showing better control than his partner, was also not getting either Karunaratne nor Thirimanne to play the ball as much as he would have liked. Though he was admittedly unlucky not to have picked up Karunaratne, having got the Lankan skipper to flash unconvincingly at a fuller delivery shaping away outside off, only for the relatively straightforward chance to be spilled by Jermaine Blackwood at backward point.
That drop though wouldn’t prove to be too costly with Karunaratne falling to the impressive Cornwall the very next over. For Sri Lanka they have their work cut out for them in the next two sessions, after failing to make more of the home side’s wayward start.