A riveting spell by the Sri Lankan pacers orchestrated a spectacular collapse as the Windies were skittled for just 93 in their second innings, but Jason Holder picked up four wickets to end the third day’s play in the day-night Test with both teams in with a sniff.
Chasing 144 for a win, Sri Lanka were 81/5 in 24 overs before rain brought an early end to proceedings. Kusal Mendis was unbeaten on 25 and had Dilruwan Perera for company on 1 with Sri Lanka needing 63 runs to finish the three-match series with honours even.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, they don’t know yet if Kusal Perera will bat in the second innings. The top-order batsman had to be stretchered off for scans after crashing into the advertising hoardings while attempting a catch and according to the last updates, was under observation in the hospital.
Resuming the day on 99/5 in their first innings after the Windies had scored 204, Sri Lanka added just 55 runs to concede a handy lead of 50 on a spicy Kensington Oval surface.
Shannon Gabriel struck the first blow, getting Roshen Silva to edge an out-swinger straight into the hands of Shane Dowrich behind the stumps.
Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera held fort for a while adding 29 runs for the seventh wicket. Dickwella, who started the day on 25, was his usual flamboyant self and hit four boundaries. But his luck soon ran out when he presented Devon Smith with a simple catch at second slip off Holder. He was gone for 42 with the scoreboard reading 147/7.
It didn’t take long for the Windies to wrap up the innings after that, with Holder snapping up Suranga Lakmal and Kasun Rajitha in quick succession. The last wicket fell courtesy a run out as Sri Lanka were bundled for 154.
Holder was the pick of the of the Windies bowlers, returning 4/19 in 16 overs, while Gabriel and Kemar Roach finished with three and two wickets respectively.
The Windies second innings then got off to a poor start with Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara wreaking havoc on the hosts’ top-order to reduce them to 14/5 inside the first eight overs.
Smith was the first one to go, inside-edging a Lakmal in-swinger on to his stumps, for a duck. Lakmal, leading Sri Lanka following the ban on Dinesh Chandimal, then accounted for Kraigg Brathwaite as well, the opener deflecting a ball on to his thigh pad and the catch carrying to Rajitha at forward short-leg.
Kumara then got into the act, sending Shai Hope’s off-stump into a spin and then getting Kieran Powell to edge one to Dickwella behind the stumps.
Dowrich (16) and Holder (15) hung around for a 27-run stand for the seventh wicket before Rajitha struck thrice. He first got rid of Dowrich, who spooned a simple catch to Lakmal at mid-on, and then bowled Devendra Bishoo with a cracking in-dipper for a two-ball duck. Things became worse for the hosts when the fast bowler got Holder to poke at one outside off with Kusal Perera at second slip making no mistake as the Windies slipped to 56/8.
Roach (23) and Miguel Cummins (14), however, managed to stretch the innings by adding 26 for the ninth wicket before the latter fell to Dilruwan Perera.
It was then that Kusal Perera picked up the horrific-looking injury. Gabriel, the last man, whacked Dilruwan Perera to long-on, where Kusal Perera ran across to take the catch. However, even as the ball sailed over for six, his momentum took the fielder over the ropes and he fell face first into the hoardings. An ambulance had to be called, and he was stretchered off for treatment.
The dinner break was taken, and proceedings ended soon after with Gabriel run out.
It was advantage Sri Lanka then, but Roach drew first blood trapping Mahela Udawatte in front of the stumps for a six-ball duck.
It was all Holder v Sri Lanka after that. The Windies captain kept it on and around off stump, and accounted for Danushka Gunathilaka (21), Dhananjaya de Silva (17), Silva (1) and Dickwella (6), and though Sri Lanka are close to their target, the Windies will hope to keep the pressure up on the fourth morning.