Chandimal 119* saves Sri Lanka opening-day blushes

Shannon Gabriel delivered a brutal spell with the new ball, then later came back to blast out the middle order to take 5 for 59. Dinesh Chandimal hit a terrific 119 not out off 185 balls, but had little support from the rest of the batting order. The result: another day dominated by West Indies, who shot the opposition out for 253, before their openers survived the two overs before stumps unscathed. The Gros Islet surface rewarded seam bowling, but had largely appeared decent for batting. In fact, Sri Lanka had chosen to bat first, expecting big runs.

It was Gabriel’s early spell that defined the day. Second ball, he squared up debutant Mahela Udawatte, who sent a low catch toward third slip, where Jason Holder completed an excellent, diving low-take. Two overs late, after a confident Dhananjaya de Silva had hit two square boundaries off Gabriel’s short balls, he claimed de Silva’s wicket with a beauty. Having the ball jag towards the right-hander off a back-of-a-length, Gabriel struck de Silva on the forearm, watched the ball ricochet into the stumps, he gloated as he jogged past the injured batsman. De Silva had to be walked off the ground by a physio holding an ice pack, but although there were initial fears that a bone could have been fractured, X-rays have cleared de Silva of any serious injury, team manager Asanka Gurusinha said. As his arm is merely bruised, de Silva is likely to bat again in the second innings.

Gabriel took three more wickets, in much later spells. He had a length ball leap at Roshen Silva, who could only edge it to Holder again, at third slip. He drew Niroshan Dickwella into a drive and had him caught in the gully. Finally, he fired one in at the pads of Suranga Lakmal, who could not get his bat in the way, and was standing right in front of the stumps. This was Gabriel’s third five-wicket haul, the other two having come against Pakistan.

Chandimal’s hundred was in some ways predictable, though given the manner in which the remainder of the batting order folded, it was invaluable as well. He hit all but one of his fours behind square, but was proactive when there were singles or twos for the taking. It was not a whirlwind innings like, his knock against India in 2015. It wasn’t a stonewall, like his century in Abu Dhabi last year. This was something in the middle, and in this game, that is what his teammates needed. He had had two clear reprieves in the innings though. On 14, he was dropped by Devon Smith at second slip, off the bowling of Miguel Cummins. On 119, he top-edged a flick to the man at point, only for bowler Kemar Roach to have been shown to have overstepped. Towards the end of the innings, he even launched Roach over long off for six.

Elsewhere, West Indies’ bowlers ran rampant. Kusal Mendis had batted alluringly for 45, before trying a swat off his hips, which ended up looping into the air, to be caught by wicketkeeper Dowrich as he ran towards square leg. Holder was the bowler. Later in the day, Roach knocked out Nos. 10 and 11 in quick time, finishing with 4 for 49 himself.

Beyond Chandimal’s 67-run stand with Mendis, there were no fifty-plus associations among the Sri Lanka batsmen. Through the whole innings, only Mendis and Kusal Perera could cross 30. When their innings ended, West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Smith came to the crease, and saw out the final two overs.


Source: Andrew Fidel Fernando – ESPNcricinfo

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