An inspired Jason Holder breathed fire to remove four Sri Lankan wickets late in the day as West Indies kept their hopes of a series win alive on a 20-wicket day in Bridgetown. These are the most wickets to have fallen in a single day of Test cricket in the Caribbean, surpassing the 18 that fell when England last toured here in 2015.
Holder’s figures at stumps on the third day read 8-3-21-4 as Sri Lanka stumbled to 81 for 5 chasing 144 for a series-levelling victory in the third Test. The visitors could effectively be six down, with Kusal Perera in hospital for scans following a nasty injury while fielding earlier in the day. Official word on his availability is awaited.
West Indies had grabbed a 50-run lead, that could have been much more if not for a shoddy drop down leg by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich in the day’s first over, with Sri Lanka yet to add to their overnight 99 for 5. On 13 then, Dickwella went on to top-score with 42 in Sri Lanka’s 154 all out. Holder picked up three of the four wickets to fall, finishing with 4 for 19 off 16 overs.
The game then galloped forward when Sri Lanka took just 31.2 overs to skittle West Indies for 93, the least overs they’ve taken to bowl out a Test side outside Asia. Kemar Roach‘s adventurous 23 not out was the highest in a disastrous batting performance, with each of the top five recording single-digit scores. Suranga Lakmal, the captain, and Lahiru Kumara picked up three wickets apiece, Kumara easily the most impressive of the lot, troubling batsmen with genuine pace married with tremendous accuracy.
Then under lights, Holder, Roach and Shannon Gabriel got the ball to hoop around, putting the batsmen through a searching examination. Sri Lanka’s hopes now hinge on Kusal Mendis, unbeaten on 25. He has allrounder Dilruwan Perera and the lower order for company.
Danushka Gunathilaka and Mahela Udawatte opened the innings in Kusal’s absence, but were dismissed cheaply to expose a fragile middle order missing Dinesh Chandimal, who is sitting out because of a suspension. Udawatte’s horror international return after a 10-year gap continued when he was beaten for pace by a sharp inswinger from Roach to be lbw – his second duck and third single-digit score in four innings on tour. Gunathilaka, meanwhile, top-edged a pull to a back-pedalling Devendra Bishoo at mid-on off a steep Holder delivery.
Dhananjaya de Silva was then put to severe test by an inspired Holder, who eventually had his wicket when the batsman shouldered arms to a ball coming inwards and saw his off stump flattened. So fired up was Holder that West Indies wasted a review to a caught behind appeal off Roshen Silva, but he wouldn’t last long, nicking to second slip in the same over to leave Sri Lanka in trouble at 50 for 4. That could have been 59 for 5 had Shai Hope, keeping in place of an injured Dowrich, held on to a one-handed chance offered by Kusal Mendis off Holder.
At the start of West Indies’ innings, the home side’s hopes of building on a big lead suffered early setbacks when they slid to 13 for 3 at the end of the first session where eight wickets fell. Kraigg Brathwaite was snaffled at short leg by a rising Lakmal delivery, while Devon Smith and Hope were beaten on the inside edge by sharp inswingers. Dowrich and Holder briefly resisted to add 27, the highest partnership of West Indies’ second innings, before things unravelled. Eventually, Roach’s cameo took the lead well beyond 100, and gave them a respectable pink-ball target to bowl at.