Sri Lanka took firm control of the Galle Test on day two, reducing West Indies for 66 for 2 after posting 484 in their first innings. West Indies ended the day with a deficit of 418, losing both their openers to Rangana Herath. The left-arm spinner trapped Kraigg Braithwaite for 19, and then cleaned up Shai Hope for 23. The twin strikes reasserted Sri Lanka’s dominance following an inexplicable batting collapse.
After looking well set for posting a first-innings total well in excess of 500, Lanka’s batting fell apart, as they lost their last seven wickets for merely 59 runs to finish on a still formidable 484. This was preceded by two worthy partnerships. Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal extended their overnight partnership further, and ended up adding 238 before they were eventually separated. Chandimal added 86 in the company of skipper Angelo Mathews to further extend Sri Lanka's hold on the match. At one stage, they were formidably placed at 425 for 3, and it looked like they could declare before the close of play. But, that was not to be the case.
Sri Lanka began losing their way just around tea. Having just crossed 150, Chandimal hit Jerome Taylor straight to cover to end the fourth wicket partnership. In the very next over, Taylor got one to straighten from around the wicket and got an edge off debutant Milinda Siriwardana. The slide continued for Lanka as Mathews fell first ball after tea. Trying to fend a short ball from Jason Holder into the leg side, he only managed to give a simple return catch to the bowler. Devendra Bishoo then joined the action. He sent back Dhammika Prasad and Rangana Herath off consecutive deliveries.
Kusal Perera also perished looking for big runs, playing on to Shannon Gabriel. The innings folded prematurely as Nuwan Pradeep hit Bishoo straight to deep midwicket as the spinner finished with four wickets. While West Indies improved with the ball, their fielding effort continued to remain shabby. In the 10th over of the day, Chandimal hit Gabriel straight to straight to backward point, where Jermaine Blackwood dropped him. Just a couple of overs after lunch, Bishoo managed to edge off Mathews as the Lankan skipper went on the front foot. Jason Holder, however, dropped him at slip. There were a couple of more dropped chances.
Mathews batted freely thanks to the wonderful foundation laid by Karunaratne and Chandimal. He was particularly adventurous against the spinners, hitting easy boundaries off Bishoo and Samuels. Chandimal was a bit more circumspect, but wasn't troubled as much. He got easy offerings against Kemar Roach and Taylor, cutting the latter to reach 150. Earlier, Karunaratne looked all set to reach a double hundred, but was dismissed on 186. Samuels was the unlikely wicket taker. Against his usual style, he went at a ball with hard hands. It stopped slightly, and Samuels got a return catch. He and Chandimal had laid a solid foundation by then.
--By A Cricket Correspondent