GALLE – Nkrumah Bonner and Joshua Da Silva both struck half-centuries but managed only to delay the inevitable as West Indies slumped to a heavy 187-run defeat to Sri Lanka in the opening Test in Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Resuming the final day at Galle International Stadium on 52 for six, in pursuit of 348 and requiring a miracle to save the contest, West Indies found themselves without divine intervention and were dismissed for 160 in their second innings, nearly an hour after lunch.
Bonner, beginning the morning on 18, finished unbeaten on 68 while wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva converted his overnight 15 into 54, defiant efforts which frustrated Sri Lanka for most of the first session.
However, once Da Silva perished in the fifth over before lunch, Sri Lanka got the opening they desperately needed and finished off the tail after the interval.
Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya added another three wickets to his tally to finish with five for 46 while Ramesh Mendis ended with four for 64 after going wicket-less on the final day.
The defeat extended West Indies’ wretched run of never having won a Test on Sri Lankan soil, and put them in danger of another series defeat in the south Asian nation.
“I thought today, Joshua and Bonner, the fight they showed – even from yesterday evening being [18 for six] – I think that was commendable for us,” said a dejected West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
“I think as batsmen we just have to learn from it.
“I believe the first innings total is always important and if you don’t do well there you’re going to be under pressure and that’s where we fell down.
“Obviously for Sri Lanka the skipper played well in the first innings and it was important we got close to their score or even past, and obviously we let ourselves down there.”
With hope stacked against West Indies at the start, Bonner and Da Silva slowly increased confidence in the camp as they rode their luck to extend their seventh wicket partnership to exactly 100.
Bonner, dropped at silly point on 36 off Embuldeniya and then given out lbw on 41 to Mendis before being reprieved by DRS, faced 220 deliveries in just over 4-½ hours and counted seven fours to post his third Test half-century.
Da Silva, meanwhile, nearly run out on 19 by captain Dimuth Karunaratne’s direct hit from cover and also dropped at leg slip on 23 off Mendis, survived to also carve out his third fifty, the knock spanning 129 balls, 2-¾ hours and including five fours.
Growing in confidence with every delivery as the Sri Lankans became increasingly frustrated, West Indies looked a safe bet to reach lunch without losing a wicket until Embuldeniya struck in the sixth over his second spell of the session.
He got one to spin sharply across Da Silva from a good length and the right-hander could only edge to slip where Dhananjaya pouched the catch.
Bonner, on 42 at the break, reached his fifty in the fourth over following the resumption by sweeping Embuldeniya to the backward square boundary, as he forged a 31-run, eighth wicket partnership with Rahkeem Cornwall who made 13.
However, Cornwall’s demise, hitting out recklessly at left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama and holing out to long off, signalled the end of West Indies’ resistance as the last three wickets went down for 11 runs in the space of 51 deliveries.
The second and final Test bowls off next Monday.
SRI LANKA 286 (Dimuth Karunaratne 147, Dhananjaya de Silva 61, Pathum Nissanka 56, Dinesh Chandimal 45; Roston Chase 5-83, Jomel Warrican 3-87, Shannon Gabriel 2-69) and 191 for four decl. (Dimuth Karunaratne 83, Angelo Mathews 69 not out; Jomel Warrican 2-42, Rahkeem Cornwall 2-60)
WEST INDIES 230 (Kyle Mayers 45, Kraigg Brathwaite 41, Rahkeem Cornwall 39, Jason Holder 36, Jermaine Blackwood 20; Praveen Jayawickrama 4-40, Ramesh Mendis 3-75) and 160 (Nkrumah Bonner 68 not out, Joshua Da Silva 54; Lasith Embuldeniya 5-46, Ramesh Mendis 4-64)
Result: Sri Lanka won by 187 runs.