NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Ten wickets proved too tall an order for West Indies on a placid strip as captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando hit half-centuries to earn Sri Lanka a draw on the final day of the second Test here on Friday.
Starting the day requiring a massive effort in order to win the contest and claim the series, West Indies managed only two wickets, with Sri Lanka reaching 193 before both captains shook hands on the stalemate 20 minutes before the close at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
Left-hander Karunaratne used the occasion to end his wretched run in the series and top-score with a polished 75 while Oshada Fernando carved out an unbeaten 66 and left-hander opener Lahiru Thirimanne, 39.
A West Indies victory was always in doubt once rain forced a 35-minute delay at the start and with Karunaratne and Thirimanne surviving the first session to reach lunch on 93 without loss, the odds of any dramatic victory decreased significantly.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite said afterwards they were always aware of the challenge before them on a good batting pitch but praised his young side for their disciplined approach.
“Obviously it was a good pitch. In both Test matches the bowlers really worked hard and what I was pleased with is that none of the guys ever gave up,” Brathwaite pointed out.
“Even down to Alzarri’s (Joseph) last spell [today], he was still giving an effort to get some short balls in so I’m very happy with the effort of the team.
“And batting-wise, we continued to bat a number of overs – 90-plus overs which is a positive for us.
“And yes, we would’ve liked to have won but I was very happy with the attitude and discipline that we had. The pitch was a good one throughout; it didn’t spin at all but I was very happy with the fast bowlers’ effort.”
Karunaratne said the flat nature of the wickets in both Tests meant outright results were always going to be difficult.
“If you take the wickets [into consideration], it’s not easy to take wickets,” he conceded.
“In the first two days there was something for the bowlers but after that it was just getting flatter and flatter.
“I think both teams have done really well, both teams have done a lot of hard work. Overall, I’m really happy with the performance.”
With just 16 runs in his previous three innings in the series, Karunaratne grabbed the opportunity to find his touch, hitting nine fours off 176 balls in just over four hours to cement his 25th Test half-century.
He put on 101 for the first wicket with Thirimanne who faced 114 balls in 2-¾ hours and struck five fours before perishing in the fifth over after lunch, caught at first slip by Rahkeem Cornwall off fast bowler Joseph.
Thirimanne was one of two wickets to fall in the session as Karunaratne followed about 20 minutes before tea, lbw to medium pacer Kyle Mayers at 146 for two after posting a further 45 with Fernando.
With Sri Lanka on 146 for two at tea, it meant West Indies needed a burst of wickets on the resumption in order to press for a victory but that success never came.
Instead, Oshada hit eight fours off 119 deliveries in just under 2-¾ hours to notch his third Test half-century as he frustrated the hosts in an unbroken third wicket stand of 47 with veteran Dinesh Chandimal who was unbeaten on 10 when the game ended.
Brief Scores: West Indies 354 & 280/4 decl. Sri Lanka 258 & 193/2 (Dimuth Karunaratne 75, Oshada Fernando 66 n.o.) Match drawn.