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Gabriel, Roach restrict Sri Lanka to 253
Sri Lanka came under heavy attack from the Windies fast bowlers on day one of the second Sandals Test at the Darren Sammy cricket ground in Gros Islet, Sri Lanka yesterday. The visitors down 0-1 in the three-match series was bowled out for 253 and the locals were two without loss at the close.
Windies fans at the venue saw an exhibition of raw pace reminiscent of the halcyon days, as Sri Lanka was shocked into submission. Leading the pack was the pace merchant from La Romaine in South Trinidad, Shannon Gabriel. The big man grabbed his second five-wicket haul to cripple the Lankans. In between the barrage of speeding balls, one man carved out a century and it came in the form of Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal.
Dropped by Devon Smith with his score on 18, he made the locals pay by scoring his 11th Test century. When play was called he was unbeaten on 119 off 186 balls with 10 fours and a six. The right-hander got support from Kusal Mendis who made 45 but the others couldn’t handle the pace.
Gabriel bowling four short spells was able to run hard at the Sri Lankans and he gave it his all. In the final session, he pumped his fist for the 5th time on the day to celebrate his success. Windies skipper Jason Holder was ultra aggressive and this kept Sri Lanka on edge for the entire day. The visitors never looked in control and at the end of the day, the Windies bowlers walked off having six consecutive days of good Test cricket under their belts.
After the initial work by Gabriel, Roach joined in the fun to finish with 4/49 as Sri Lankan underlined their issues with genuinely fast bowling.
Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to take the first strike. They rang in the changes and even dropped their most successful bowler in Rangana Herath. The skipper said it was tactical as the track was full of runs. Also missing were Angelo Mathews (personal reasons) and Lahiru Gamage (injured).
The Windies bowlers were licking their chops at the sight of the green tinge on the strip. Opening bowlers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel gave the Sri Lankan openers a torrid time and by the second over Michael Udawatte on debut edged to Holder at slip of Gabriel without scoring.
Soon after, it was Gabriel again striking, as he bowled a very quick in cutter to Dhananjaya de Silva that struck him on the arm and dropped on his timbers.
Perera all the while was having a nightmare, playing and missing at numerous deliveries. He scratched around for 31 balls in the first hour and scored just two runs. After the first water break the aggression eased and he started to play some flowing shots through the off-side. The man who started off as a right-hander but wanted to model the legendary Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya and changed to left-handed was getting value for runs on a lightning fast outfield.
He slammed five fours and took his tally to 32 runs before Roach with his first delivery back 10 minutes to go to lunch, had him edging into the bucket-like hands of skipper Holder at third slip. He faced 55 balls and left with the score at 59 for three. Captain Dinesh Chandimal then came and partnered Mendis to lunch adding a further 20 runs, as the break was taken with the score at 79/3.
After the lunch break, the Windies bowlers continued to impress and time and time again the ball beat the outside edge. Devon Smith dropped a sitter at first slip off the unlucky Miguel Cummins, when Chandimal was on 14. The same batsman got another reprieve when he clipped one from Cummins inches over Devendra Bishoo at leg gully.
Skipper Holder at no time gave any of his bowlers an extended run as he rotated them well, keeping them reasonably fresh. He himself would get the next wicket when he had Mendis top-edging a shot to short fine and keeper Shane Dowrich took off, made great ground and held onto the catch. Mendis, who scored a century in the first Test made 45 off 83 balls with eight fours.
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