Tea; Sri Lanka 129-5
Kraigg Brathwaite made an immediate impact on his first day as the permanent West Indies captain.
Having won the toss, always a useful attribute, and put Sri Lanka in, he turned to spin within six overs – which resulted in the first wicket, that of opposition captain Dimuth Karunaratne, caught at short leg – and then swooped superbly at extra cover to run out Oshado Fernando with a direct hit.
Fernando answered Lihiru Thirimanne’s call immediately as the opener dropped the ball into the off side, but was still a yard too slow for Brathwaite, who also showed a great willingness to attack when he could, crowding the openers as he tried to make the best use of off spinner Rakheem Cornwall’s height while the ball was hard.
When Jason Holder, the man dispossessed of his captaincy crown, was brought on half an hour or so before lunch, he found swing and a beautiful consistency with his line and length until Dinesh Chandimal could resist no more and feathered one through to Josh Da Silva on the stroke of the interval.
Sri Lanka lost two more wickets, to Kemar Roach, after the break as the right-arm paceman bowled Dhananjiya De Silva, back in the Test team for the first time since Sri Lanka’s first Test in South Africa, where he had retired hurt on 73, and had debutant Pathum Nissanka caught by Holder at slip.
Thirimanne, the left-hander, battled away, looking to add to a poor return in the Test arena that had enabled him to collect only two hundreds – the second in the first Test against England in Galle in January – and six fifties from 74 innings. He went to a seventh half-century from 129 balls and with just three fours and found a different form of resistance in his flamboyant partner Niroshan Dickwellas as they forged the highest partnership of the day.
There was something in the pitch for all the bowlers, although nothing too extravagant in terms of spin or seam but there was an intensity about the West Indies that maybe hasn’t always been there in the past.