PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Kieran Powell’s audacious, unbeaten half-century underlined West Indies’ dominance of Sri Lanka on Friday’s day three, as the hosts installed themselves as heavy favourites to win the opening Test at Queen’s Park Oval.
Starting the day with the upper hard, West Indies bowlers remained clinical to bundle Sri Lanka out for a paltry 185, and secure a healthy first innings lead of 229 runs.
The left-handed Powell then hammered an elegant 64 to propel the Windies to 131 for four at the close, an overall lead of 360 heading into Saturday’s penultimate day.
Powell faced 80 balls in nearly two hours at the crease, stroking six delight fours and two sixes, as West Indies turned the screws on Sri Lanka leaving them with a mountain to climb to save the encounter.
The Windies bowlers had earlier maintained the advantage, taking the last seven Sri Lanka wickets to fall for the addition of 154 runs.
Starting the day on 31 for three, Sri Lanka found themselves in further turmoil in the morning’s third over when Roshen Silva was bowled off his pads by seamer Kemar Roach (2-34) after adding four to his overnight one.
Tottering on 43 for four and in need of a partnership, the visitors found salvation in a 78-run, fifth wicket stand between captain Dinesh Chandimal who top-scored with 44 and wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella who made 31.
The right-handed Chandimal was circumspect throughout, counting five fours in an innings lasting 121 balls and nearly three hours while Dickwella, a left-hander, struck three boundaries in a 79-ball knock.
Chandimal appeared set to take his side safely to lunch when he slashed at the first ball of the final over before the break from Shannon Gabriel (2-48), and gave Roston Chase an easy chest-high catch at point.
On 125 for five at the interval, Sri Lanka were not afforded the chance to rebuild on the resumption, as they lost their last five wickets for 60 runs.
Dickwella hesitated over a sharp single and was run out about half-hour after the break by Kraigg Brathwaite’s direct throw from mid-on at 140 for six, and Rangana Herath (5) survived 15 balls before tugging a short ball from fast bowler Miguel Cummins to substitute Shimron Hetmyer at mid-wicket.
Dilruwan Perera was snared by Shai Hope at short leg off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for 20 before Cummins, who finished with three for 39, claimed the last two wickets as Sri Lanka’s innings closed 25 minutes before the scheduled tea interval.
With West Indies opting not to enforce the follow on, openers Devon Smith (20) and Kraigg Brathwaite (16) put on 36 for the first wicket, though neither suggested permanence.
Veteran Smith struck three fours in a 30-ball innings but was out in disappointing circumstances. He enjoyed a huge slice of luck when he was bowled off a no-ball by Suranga Lakmal but then played on to the very next ball, driving at a wide, innocuous delivery.
Brathwaite was caught by wicketkeeper Dickwella diving in front of first slip, after edging a punch off the back foot at enterprising pacer Lahiru Kumara (2-28), leaving West Indies on 55 for two.
Powell counter-attacked, however, unfurling an array of pristine off-side drives as he put on 44 for the fourth wicket with Roston Chase (12), to stem the fall of wickets.
Taking a liking to Kumara, Powell twice stroked the right-armer for boundaries in one over before top-edging a pull over the keeper’s head for six, a few overs later.
He moved into the 40s with an immaculate straight drive off the same bowler before smashing off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for a straight six, to raise his fifth Test half-century off just 59 balls.
Powell lose Chase for 12 near the close, bowled by one from left-arm spinner Herath which kept low.