A draw after the rains
GALLE, Sri Lanka, Nov 19, CMC – Steady afternoon rain again descended on this southern Sri Lankan city to condemn West Indies to settle for a draw in the first Test against the hosts on Friday.
West Indies toiled diligently, but opener Tharanga Paranavitana hit 95, Mahela Jayawardene scored 58, and Tillakaratne Dilshan made 54 to lift the Sri Lankans to 241 for four before rain prompted an early tea break and washed out the entire final period on the fifth and final day at the Galle International Stadium.
The result meant that West Indies are still seeking their first Test victory in Sri Lanka, and sets the stage for a compelling battle in the second Test, starting this coming Tuesday at the Premadasa Stadium in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.
“We came into the match well prepared, despite being short of match practice,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy. “The opportunities we got, we made the best of it all, and it showed in the way we performed.
“It was good to see that we dictated the game throughout. Our plans were clear, and our execution was good to see.”
He added: “There is always room for improvement. Players have been supportive, and hopefully, we can achieve big things.
“This match has shown we can be competitive, and we can put ourselves in winning positions. This is over, we now start a whole new Test, and we need to keep moving forward as a team.”
West Indies opener Chris Gayle was named Man-of-the-Match for his monumental triple hundred of 333 – the second of his Test career – in the visitors’ first innings total of 580 for nine declared.
“It’s good to be in the same class as the great players that have hit two triple hundreds,” he said. “I hope I can continue this good form in the second Test, and take it from there.”
West Indies have only themselves to blame for the outcome though. They lacked the aggressive intent, after Kemar Roach made two early breakthroughs to leave the home team wobbling on 110 for two.
The visitors then allowed Paranavitana, who was dropped on 53, and Jayawardene to dictate terms in an 87-run stand for the third wicket.
Before lunch, Roach removed Dilshan and then Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara for four in the first half-hour, as Sri Lanka reached 159 for two at the interval.
The West Indies strike bowler bowled with pace and hostility in a purposeful opening spell. He caused trouble from as early as his first over, when a leaden-footed Paranavitana got the benefit of the doubt from an lbw appeal.
At the other end, Shillingford could not prevent Dilshan from reaching his 50 from 70 balls with a back-foot cover drive for a deuce.
In Roach’s second over, Paranavitana again misjudged the line and length of a well-pitched delivery, and was rapped on the pads, when he offered no stroke to a delivery that landed on the line of leg-stump, and held its line.
Umpire Richard Kettleborough’s not-out verdict was referred, and TV umpire Asad Rauf could find no evidence to make him change his mind.
Roach was now in full flight however, and in his third over, he extracted Dilshan’s off-stump, with the fifth delivery – a perfectly-pitched yorker.
His joy soon turned to mourning, when square-leg fielder Andre Russell dropped Sangakkara on nought off the final delivery.
Roach’s despair lasted only six balls. After Paranavitana flicked the first ball of his next over through backward square leg for three to reach his 50 from 89 balls, the West Indies fast bowler had Sangakkara caught at gully edging a loose drive at the last ball outside the off-stump to leave the home team on 110 for two.
West Indies had a chance to pouch Paranavitana, but Sammy muffed a sharp chance at slip off Shillingford.
For close to the next three hours, West Indies found Paranavitana and Jayawardene unshakeable, and the pair virtually batted Sri Lanka to safety.
Shillingford and Brendan Nash, bowling his uncomplicated left-arm spin, scalped them respectively in the final hour before tea to lift West Indies hopes of a dramatic finish later, but it never occurred due to the weather.
West Indies had built-up the pressure, with Shillingford wheeling away at one end, and the seam bowlers bending their backs at the other.
The off-spinner was eventually rewarded, when Paranavitana top-edged a cut at a delivery that bounced awkwardly and was caught at slip – this time Sammy making no mistake.
Shillingford robbed himself of another wicket, when Thilan Samaraweera, on nine, drove a low return chance to him, and he failed to hold on.
Sammy then delved into his bag of tricks, when he turned to his deputy, but Jayawardene greeted Nash with a lofted straight six to reach his second 50 of the match from 123 balls, and Samaraweera pulled him through mid-wicket for four.
But Sammy persevered with Nash, and in his fourth over, Jayawardene drove a lazy, low return catch to the West Indies vice-captain to leave Sri Lanka 233 for four.
West Indies had little chance to forge ahead following his dismissal, since another 15 balls were bowled before umpires Kettleborough and Steve Davis decided to take shelter from the steady drizzle, which never allowed the players to return to the field.