Powell’s 88 takes West Indies towards an unassailable lead

West Indies

Lunch West Indies 414 for 8 dec and 209 for 7 (Bishoo 12*, Roach 1*, Kumara 3-40, Herath 2-47) lead Sri Lanka 185 by 438 runs

Shane Dowrich was trapped in front, Kieran Powell was wangled out of his wicket in sight of his century, and Jason Holder was dismissed in the approach to lunch, but West Indies continued to march ahead nevertheless – growing their lead to 438 – with three second-innings wickets in hand, and five sessions still to play with.

Such is the heft of their advantage that a Sri Lanka victory is almost unthinkable – no team having ever chased down more than 419 in the fourth innings. The track has not become treacherous yet, as Powell said after stumps yesterday, they are hoping to wear the Sri Lanka side down, then nail them when the pitch does show serious signs of wear.

Powell was a little more tentative on this morning than he had been in the evening on Friday. His first scoring shot of the day was a purring drive through cover, but at other times he was hemmed in by the Sri Lanka seamers’ disciplined lines and lengths. Occasionally he seemed downright uncomfortable, against Lahiru Kumara’s short balls in particular, one of which hit him on the gloves and deflected onto his helmet as he attempted a hook shot. But he stuck around long enough to get West Indies moving ahead. He was on 88 when having misread a Dilruwan Perera slider, flicking the ball aerially to midwicket, where substitute fielder Jeffrey Vandersay took a sharp diving catch.

As has been the case throughout this Test, Kumara was Sri Lanka’s most menacing bowlers, and it had been he who had made the first breakthrough of the day, having a ball jag back at Dowrich to have him ruled lbw. Holder batted aggressively, hitting 39 off 40 balls in an innings that featured reverse sweeps and a six over cow corner off Dilruwan. Rangana Herath would eventually dismiss him – an arm ball hitting Holder in the pads as he attempted another reverse sweep. At the crease at lunch were Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach, both of whom had frustrated Sri Lanka with the bat in the first innings, and are more than capable of swelling an already monumental lead.

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