Rain lets Sri Lanka off hook after Gabriel leads Windies counter

Kusal Mendis loses his off-stump to Shannon Gabriel (out of photo) on the second day of the third Test at Kensington Oval yesterday. (Photo courtesy CWI Media)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Speedster Shannon Gabriel produced a lethal burst in the final session to hurt Sri Lanka but rain continued to toy with the historic day/night third Test, leaving the Kensington Oval contest delicately poised after the second day here yesterday.

Replying to West Indies’ 204, Sri Lanka stumbled to 99 for five in their first innings, to find themselves still 105 runs behind heading into today’s third day.

Sri Lanka were in turmoil at 16 for two shortly after lunch but looked to be rebuilding courtesy of a 59-run, third wicket stand between Danushka Gunathilaka (29) and Kusal Mendis (22), to reach the next interval on 75 for two.

However, Gabriel struck in the second over following the resumption when he forced an unusually injudicious stroke out of Mendis, and claimed the right-hander playing on without any addition to the score.

In the very next over, Gunathilaka played down the wrong line to one from captain and seamer Jason Holder and was lbw on review, after the initial appeal was turned down.

Sri Lanka were tottering on 81 for four at that stage and Gabriel threw the innings further into strife when he beat Dhananjaya de Silva for pace and trapped him lbw for eight, 17 balls later.

West Indies’ tails were up but the rains then arrived on the stroke of the hour to quell whatever momentum they had, and hand Sri Lanka somewhat of a reprieve.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella was carrying the fight for the visitors on 13 not out off 16 deliveries and was partnered by Roshen Silva on three.

Gabriel finished with two for 42 to move to 19 wickets for the series while new-ball partner Kemar Roach has claimed two for 13.

Holder and wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich had earlier both missed out on hundreds as West Indies lost their last five wickets for 72 runs, to be bowled out 17 minutes before lunch.

Holder top-scored with 74 while Dowrich got 71, the pair extending their sixth wicket stand to 115 before being separated, triggering the final collapse of the innings.

Impressive seamer Lahiru Kumara was once again at the forefront picking up three of the wickets to fall to end with four for 58, while Kasun Rajitha claimed three for 68 and fellow pacer Suranga Lakmal, two for 52.

Resuming the afternoon on 132 for five, the Windies flourished as Holder and Dowrich added a further 36 runs.

But Dowrich, who batted soundly on the rain-hit opening day to lift the Windies out of dire straits, never really regained that touch and added just 11 to his overnight score before perishing lbw to Kumara, nearly three-quarters of an hour following the start.

He faced 132 balls in just under 3-1/2 hours at the crease and struck nine fours.

Holder, meanwhile, unbeaten at the start on 33, started positively with a couple of boundaries and reached his seventh Test half-century 41 minutes into the session.

He lost Devendra Bishoo without scoring, caught at second slip by Kusal Mendis off Kumara before departing eight balls later to a brilliant catch by Dilruwan Perera diving to his left at gully, as he cut at Rajitha.

Holder struck 13 fours in an innings requiring 123 balls and lasting a shade over three hours.

The end came swiftly as Miguel Cummins was caught close in off off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for two and Gabriel nicked Kumara behind to be last out, also for two.

Yet to score at lunch in the two overs available before the break, Sri Lanka found themselves in trouble on the resumption when Roach removed both openers in quick succession.

First, he had left-hander Kusal Perera caught at the wicket without scoring off the third ball after the interval, before Sri Lanka had gotten off the mark.

The right-armer then accounted for Mahela Udawatte for four, lbw missing one that came back.

Gunathilaka, reprieved on 28 when he was caught by Kieran Powell at mid-off off a Cummins no-ball 11 minutes before tea, combined with Mendis to frustate the Windies before both perished early in the rain-hit final session.

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