Barring a brief period of blitz by Kusal Perera, aided with some support by Kusal Mendis, it was a session dominated by the Windies pacers as Sri Lanka managed to reach 79 for 3 at Lunch on the opening day of the second Test in St. Lucia on Thursday (June 14).
Sri Lanka, who had won the toss and elected to bat, had come in with four changes. While Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Gamage were out due to injury, the spin duo of Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera was left out on a pitch that was expected to assist the pacers.
With good pace and bounce on offer, Windies’ new-ball pair of Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel bowled a testing opening spell. Debutant Mahela Udawatte’s stay at the crease lasted only two deliveries as Gabriel managed to induce an edge off his bat to Jason Holder at slips. Dhananjaya de Silva’s resistance didn’t last too long either as he was undone by the steep bounce. The ball from Gabriel rose sharply after pitching and got the inside edge of his bat on to the stumps to reduce the visitors to 15 for 2.
Amidst all this, Kusal Perera survived. He missed, was beaten and troubled but the Windies pacers failed to dismiss him. He got off to a rather uncharacteristic start, managing only two runs off his first 30 deliveries. But once Gabriel and Roach went off attack, the pitch turned less venomous, and batting became easier, the southpaw took advantage. The highlight of his brief breeze was the three consecutive boundaries he hit off Jason Holder to take Sri Lanka past the 50-run mark.
Perera looked well set to make use of the start, but his innings was soon cut short by Roach, who was reintroduced into the attack. Off the first ball of his second spell, coming around the wicket, he had the left-hander outside edging a fend to Holder at slips.
With a bit of struggle and a bit of audacity, Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal survived till Lunch.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 79/3 (Kusal Perera 32, Kusal Mendis 26*; Shannon Gabriel 2-37) vs Windies.
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