West Indies debutant spinner Jomel Warrican took four wickets to bowl Sri Lanka out for 200 on day one of the second Test on Thursday, raising hopes of a series-saving victory for the visitors.
The 23-year-old, who received his Test cap from the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers, grabbed four for 67 off 20 overs after Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat at the P Sara Stadium in Colombo.
Warrican said he could not have asked for a better start to his Test career. He was inspired by Sobers, the 79-year-old regarded by many as the game’s best-ever all-rounder, who told him, “You have many games to come.” The newcomer was modest about his own efforts. “I thought the performance was average. It could have been better, but four-for (67) is a very good start for me,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s top scorer Milinda Siriwardana (68) said he was disappointed with the team’s performance, but hoped they could dismiss the visitors for under 200 on Friday. “Our spinners Rangana and Dilruwan, I am sure will bowl the West Indies out below our total,” Siriwardana said.
Bad light stopped play when the visitors were 17-1 off 5.2 overs in their quest for the first West Indian Test win on Sri Lankan soil. They lost Shai Hope LBW to Dhammika Prasad in the first over for just four. With Kraigg Brathwaite (four not out) was nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo on five.
Warrican took the scalps of Siriwardana and tailenders Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep, as the hosts slid from 145 for 6 at tea to be all out in just 66 overs. He also dismissed Kusal Perera for 16. Siriwardana, playing only his second Test, was caught deep on the boundary trying to hit Warrican for his third six. He struck six fours in his maiden Test 50. Rangana Herath, who was 26 not out, was the next-highest scorer.
Sri Lanka won the first Test in Galle by an innings.
But the hosts suffered an early collapse on Thursday, losing four wickets before lunch and another two before tea. The visitors savoured early success when Jerome Taylor had opener Kaushal Silva caught behind off the fourth ball for a duck. Umpire Rod Tucker was forced to reverse his initial decision of not out after the West Indies captain Jason Holder called for a review.
Opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who scored 184 in the first Test, looked shaky from the start and was next to fall, followed by series debutant Kusal Mendis. After a fourth review, captain Angelo Mathews was also given out, caught by Kraigg Brathwaite at second slip off Holder for 14.
In the afternoon session Dinesh Chandimal, whose century had helped Sri Lanka to victory in the first Test, was clean-bowled by Taylor for 25. Kusal Perera was caught and bowled by Warrican for 16.
The West Indies have not found Sri Lanka a happy hunting ground since they played their first official Test on the island in 1993. Now they are next to bottom -- above only Bangladesh -- in the league table of regular Test-playing nations while Sri Lanka are one notch above them in seventh place.
Sri Lanka are going through a rebuilding phase after the recent retirements of star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. But they were still far too strong for the visitors in Galle.