Gabriel, Roach defy Chandimal hundred to give WI control

Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel celebrates another scalp during his five-wicket haul on the opening day of the second Test on Thursday. (Photo courtesy CWI Media)

GROS ISLET, St Lucia,  CMC – Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel defied captain Dinesh Chandimal’s 11th Test hundred to hurt Sri Lanka with his third five-wicket haul in Tests, as West Indies dominated the opening day of the second Test here Thursday.

Chandimal struck a polished, unbeaten 119 as Sri Lanka, opting to bat first at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, folded late in the day for 253 in their first innings.

First Test century-maker Kusal Mendis hit 45 and opener Kusal Perera, 32, but the visitors lost their last five wickets for 96 runs in the final session to slump from 157 for five at the tea break.

Gabriel was outstanding with five for 59 to lead the Windies attack while new-ball partner Kemar Roach finished with four for 49, in the process going past 150 Test wickets in his 100th first class match.

In the two overs available before the close, the Windies reached two without loss.

Sri Lanka’s batsmen never came to grips with a purposeful Windies attack, and struggled throughout each session to construct meaningful partnerships.

Following a delayed start because of rain, Sri Lanka quickly found themselves tottering on 15 for two inside the first half-hour, with Gabriel knocking over debutant Mahela Udawatte and Dhananjaya de Dilva cheaply.

Left-hander Udawatte perished without scoring when he edged to captain Jason Holder at second slip in the second over of the morning.

Four overs later, de Silva played on to a quick one from the Trinidadian paceman for 12, leaving Sri Lanka in a spot of bother. Perera and Mendis came together in a 44-run third wicket stand which consolidated the innings and saw Sri Lanka through the remainder of the first hour.

The left-handed Perera faced 55 balls and struck five fours while Mendis counted eight sweetly-timed fours in an 83-ball knock.

However, Roach struck a key blow in the final hour before lunch when he squared up Perera and had him caught chest-high by Holder at third slip.

Mendis then combined with Chandimal in the most productive stand of the innings, adding 67 for the fourth wicket to see Sri Lanka flourish from their lunch time position of 79 for three.

Unbeaten on 26 at lunch, the right-handed Mendis appeared set for another half-century before falling just short of the hour mark, when he top-edged a pull and was caught by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich running around to mid-wicket.

Roshen Silva failed again, lasting only 23 balls for his six before edging Gabriel to third slip where Holder took his third catch of the match.  Left to rebuild yet against at tea, Sri Lanka found solace in the resolute Chandimal who faced 186 balls and struck 10 fours and a six.

Resuming from the final break on 53, the right-hander took responsibility for the innings especially after losing wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella (16) in the seventh over after the resumption, well caught at gully by a diving Shai Hope off the inspired Gabriel.

The partnership of 31 was one of two small ones anchored by Chandimal, as he also added 31 for the ninth wiket with Kasun Rajitha (4), to eke runs out from the tail.

Chandimal moved into the 80s with a pulled boundary off Roach before entering the 90s in style with a reverse sweep for four off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.

He brought up his hundred – his second in the Caribbean and third as skipper – deep in the session with an edged four off pacer Miguel Cummins.

Gabriel grabbed his fifth wicket when he trapped Suranga Lakmal lbw for 10 missing a flick while Roach picked up three of the last five wickets to tumble.

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