Ton-up Chandimal rescues Lanka

Ton-up Chandimal rescues Lanka

Dinesh Chandimal cuts one to the fence en route his unbeaten 119 against West Indies. AFP

Dinesh Chandimal's battling, unbeaten hundred defied a West Indies attack spearheaded by Shannon Gabriel as Sri Lanka were lifted by their captain to a first innings total of 253 on the opening day of the second Test at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Thursday.

West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Devon Smith negotiated two overs before the close of play safely and will resume the home side's reply at two without loss on the second day.

It looked for most of the day that Gabriel, the burly fast bowler who finished with the impressive figures of five for 59, would claim individual honours outright. 

But Chandimal, badly missed by Smith at slip off Miguel Cummins when only on 14, grew in confidence and resolve to finish on 119 not out, his 11th Test century and surely one of his most invaluable.

He got good support from the lower-order, especially Kasun Rajitha, the fast-medium bowler who was one of two debutants in a Sri Lankan side showing four changes from the team comprehensively beaten by 226 runs in the first Test in Trinidad. 

Most controversial of the changes was the omission of veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, although it was not clear if his omission was because of poor form or, as the selectors had hinted prior to the series, that he would be rested from one of the three matches.

Chandimal's innings spanned five hours and occupied 186 deliveries with ten fours and one six. 

It represented a significant reversal from his performance on the final day of the first Test four days earlier, when an ugly leave at off-spinner Roston Chase triggered Sri Lanka's second innings collapse.

Kemar Roach, the senior man in terms of experience in the West Indies bowling line-up, claimed four for 49, including three of the final four wickets to ensure that the tourists were still left dissatisfied with their final total, especially as Chandimal made the decision to bat first.

Gabriel's pace and hostility, reminiscent of his early bursts in both innings on the first Test, again caused great discomfort to Sri Lanka's top order and he was swiftly among the wickets in accounting for debutant opener Mahela Udawatte and middle-order batsman Dhananjaya De Silva.

New ball partner Roach accounted for Kusal Perera in his second spell of the morning.

De Silva, who arrived in the Caribbean only last week due to the death of his father two weeks ago and therefore missed the first Test, suffered an elbow injury when he was struck on the arm by the fearsome Gabriel with the ball ricocheting onto the stumps. Scans revealed bad bruising but no fracture.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka: 253 all out in 79 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 119, Kusal Mendis 45; Kemar Roach 4-49, Shannon Gabriel 5-59) vs West Indies: 2/0 in 2 overs.