Brathwaite on brink of century
It’s almost two years and eight months since Kraigg Brathwaite made a Test century, but today he needs just one run to get his ninth Test ton, as the West Indies will resume on 287 for seven after day-one action of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Antigua.
Captain Brathwaite did tell reporters on the eve of the match that his form was not a cause for concern, and the right-hander answered his critics with a resolute and disciplined unbeaten knock of 99, which came off 239 deliveries and included 11 fours.
To say the innings was the anchor for the home side would be an understatement, as the skipper batted all day, even as wickets tumbled around him from as early as the seventh over.
The West Indies, who were asked to take the first strike, lost John Campbell for five, to danger man Suranga Lakmal who continues to impress with his seaming and swinging length deliveries.
First Test centurion Nkrumah Bonner didn’t trouble the score this time, and it was Lakmal who did the damage to leave the hosts on 15 for two.
Brathwaite eventually found a useful partner in Kyle Mayers, and the duo mixed aggression with resolve, to take the score to lunch at 86 for two with Brathwaite on 26 and Mayers 49.
The third ball after the resumption resulted in a third wicket for the Sri Lankans, as Mayers drove at Vishwa Fernando and was caught behind.
Jermaine Blackwood came and tried to hit his way back into form, but when he got to 18 with two fours and a six, he edged Lakmal, who claimed his third wicket, to the keeper, to leave the home side on 120 for four.
Jason Holder then hunkered down with his captain and put on 51 runs for the fifth wicket, but off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva sent him to slip for 30 to leave the West Indies precariously placed at 171 for five.
Wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva, who survived a leg-before-wicket decision after a review didn’t last much longer as he too edged to the keeper, who took his fourth catch of the innings, off Dushmantha Chameera for one.
Alzarri Joseph played a few lusty blows in his quick-fire 29 to spruce up the scoring, but it was the 65-run unbeaten eight-wicket partnership between Brathwaite and Rahkeem Cornwall that swung the day slightly back in favour of the hosts.
Brathwaite, who also survived a dropped chance when on 37, became the 16th West Indian to score 4,000 Test runs.
Cornwall, who also played some lovely strokes, needs just seven more runs to score his second Test fifty, as the West Indies look to utilise the first hour of the second morning’s play to post a formidable total.
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
*K Brathwaite not out 99
J Campbell c wkp Dickwella b Lakmal 5
N Bonner b Lakmal 0
K Mayers c wkp Dickwella b V Fernando 49
J Blackwood c wkp Dickwella b Lakmal 18
J Holder c Thirimanne b de Silva 30
+J Da Silva c wkp Dickwella b Chameera 1
A Joseph lbw b Embuldeniya 29
R Cornwall not out 43
Extras (lb6, nb7) 13
TOTAL (7 wkts, 86 overs) 287
To bat: K Roach, S Gabriel
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Campbell), 2-15 (Bonner), 3-86 (Mayers), 4-120 (Blackwood), 5-171 (Holder), 6-185 (Da Silva), 7-222 (Joseph)
Bowling: Lakmal 20-8-71-3 (nb1), V Fernando 22-4-59-1, Embuldeniya 21-4-79-1 (nb5), Chameera 16-3-56-1, Dhananjaya 7-3-16-1 (nb1).
SRI LANKA – Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Lahiru Thiramanne, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya, Dushmantha Chameera.
Toss: Sri Lanka.
Umpires: G Brathwaite, J Wilson; TV – N Duguid.