Oshada Fernando was dismissed nine runs shy of a second Test century but his contribution helped Sri Lanka put in an improved batting effort and take a 153-run lead over the West Indies in the first Test in Antigua. At stumps on day three earlier this morning, Sri Lanka were 255 for 4, with Dhananjaya de Silva on 46 not out and debutant Pathum Nissanka unbeaten on 26. While opener Lahiru Thirimanne scored a second successive half-century putting on a partnership of 162 for the third wicket with Fernando, it was the latter who stole the plaudits striking 11 boundaries in his 149-ball knock.
The pair had cut the deficit of 102 by half at the end of the first session as Sri Lanka reached lunch on 67 for 1. They followed it up with a wicketless post-lunch session and had edged ahead to a two-run lead when tea was taken. Kemar Roach was earlier left unbeaten after Sri Lanka wrapped up the home side’s first innings just two overs into the day.
Vishwa Fernando dismissed top-scorer Rahkeem Cornwall for 61 and last man Shannon Gabriel within the space of four deliveries as the West Indies were all out for 271, a first innings lead of 102.
Suranga Lakmal missed out the tail but ended with career-best Test innings figures of five for 47, an improvement on the fast-medium bowler’s previous best of five for 54 against New Zealand in the Boxing Day Test in Christchurch in 2018.With Cornwall resuming on 60 and the West Indies already ahead by 99 runs with two wickets in hand, any hope of extending the lead significantly beyond the 100-run mark ended when Vishwa Fernando bowled the burly right-hander through the gate with just one run added to the batsman’s score.Gabriel then lived up to his reputation as a certified tail-ender when he was trapped plumb leg-before to end the innings and cause some relief in the Sri Lankan camp that they were finally able to complete a task they appeared to have under control when the West Indies were labouring at 171 for seven after tea on the second day.
That relief swiftly descended to anxiety when Karunaratne again fell cheaply, making just three before edging an attempted drive to a full-length delivery from Roach for John Campbell to take the comfortable catch at third slip.