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Sri Lanka poised for win in first Test as spinners ensnare Windies batters

Photo: ICC

Galle, Nov 24 (MNN) Sri Lanka are just four wickets away from a win as their spinners ensnared West Indies batters, reducing the visitors to 52/6 at stumps on day four in the first Test here on Wednesday.

Rain kept players in the dressing rooms as the start of play was delayed in the morning. However, once action began on day four, it didn’t take Sri Lanka too long to wrap up the West Indies innings.

Praveen Jayawickrama trapped Shannon Gabriel in front of the stumps to complete his four-for.

The Windies added only five runs to their overnight score and were bundled out for 230, giving the hosts a lead of 156 runs.

West Indies chose to operate with spin at one end right from the beginning and the move paid immediate dividends.

After two close chances in the third over, Pathum Nissanka’s luck ran out as Shai Hope completed a good diving catch at leg slip.

With lots of spin on offer on the fourth-day surface, the spinners induced many false shots and created several wicket-taking chances.

Oshada Fernando’s stay at the crease didn’t last too long, with Jomel Warrican trapping him leg before wicket.

Angelo Mathews joined Dimuth Karunaratne at the crease and with the ball getting older, run-scoring became a lot easier for the experienced duo.

The two batters started to find the boundaries more frequently and ensured that Sri Lanka go into lunch without losing more wickets with a healthy lead of 240.

They continued to show good intent even after the break, finding two fours in the two overs to keep the pressure on the West Indies bowlers.

Mathews and Karunaratne soon switched gears and went into white-ball mode, with the six overs between 29-34 fetching them 49 runs, including eight boundaries.

Karunaratne’s rich vein of form continued as he brought up his half-century, registering a 50+ score for a sixth innings in a row.

Mathews wasn’t one to be left behind as he too got to his fifty in 70 balls.

In dire need of a wicket, Rahkeem Cornwall answered West Indies’ call by breaking the 123-run stand between the two, scalping the wicket of Karunaratne for 83.

One wicket brought two for the visitors as Warrican completed a simple caught and bowled to dismiss Dhananjaya de Silva.

With declaration on the horizon, Mathews sent a couple of balls over the ropes. Sri Lanka soon declared the innings on 191/4, setting West Indies a target of 348.

Ramesh Mendis struck early for Sri Lanka, with Kraigg Brathwaite making the long walk back for a duck, which began the steady procession of wickets.

Jermaine Blackwood got a lifeline after he was dropped at slips but he didn’t make much of the reprieve as Mathews completed a good, low catch three balls later.

Mendis and Embuldeniya went through the defences of Shai Hope and Roston Chase respectively and rattled the stumps. Mendis was on a hattrick in his next over, with Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder dismissed off consecutive balls as West Indies lost six wickets for with just 18 runs on the board.

Nkrumah Bonner and Joshua Da Silva ensured no more wickets fall on the day as they put on an unbeaten 34-run partnership before bad light forced umpires to call it a day.

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