Sri Lanka’s bowling in the Windies’ second innings, with stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal leading from the front, won them a tense third Test to draw level in the series, coach Chandika Hathurusingha has said.
The visitors conceded 204 in the Windies’ first innings, before replying with 154 of their own and coming back to scuttle Jason Holder’s men for 93 in their second hit. Then, needing 63 runs for victory on day four in Barbados with five wickets in hand, they held on to win the day-night Test by four wickets and make it 1-1 in the series.
That a young Sri Lankan team pulled off the win with several of their senior players missing and captain Dinesh Chandimal serving a suspension would give them confidence, the coach suggested.
“We have had a lot of ups and downs. To come back and level the series is a great effort,” he said. “We always had hope but the way the game progressed we were under pressure.
“Tactically, Jason was on the mark but our bowlers responded in the second innings. Our second-innings bowling won us the game. Suranga had a chat and they rallied around. All credit to all four bowlers. Suranga led from the front. That particular 10-over spell put the Windies under pressure.”
Lakmal, who had five wickets for the match, including 3/25 the second time around, was elated at how his first experience with Test captaincy went. “I feel so happy,” he said. “I didn't expect it. I thought it was a good opportunity to lead and I took it.”
Taking them across the finish line were Kusal Perera, who returned from a short hospital visit the previous day, and Diruwan Perera.
Diruwan said the duo’s experience of playing together for the same club helped them bat on a challenging, uneven surface. “We thought if we bat longer we can get the runs … We both play for the same club and we know each other.
“This is the first time I've batted this way, so it was pretty hard for us, and I'm happy we managed to achieve it.”
Jason Holder and Suranga Lakmal shared the trophy Jason Holder and Suranga Lakmal shared the trophy
Holder, meanwhile, rued the missed chances. “We just did not have enough runs in the second innings,” he said. “It put our bowlers under pressure to come and do something special. Even though we gave them 140 to win, we knew could do it. But we missed some chances in the field.”
With Windies hosting Bangladesh next, Holder was keen to look at the positives. “(Shannon) Gabriel was outstanding. I must commend him. (Shane) Dowrich was outstanding as well. (Kemar) Roach needs to be mentioned too,” he said of the players who finished with 20 wickets, 288 runs and 11 wickets respectively.
The Windies play Bangladesh in two Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is starting on 4 July.