Windies, Sri Lanka draw second Test

GROS ISLET, St Lucia –

West Indies celebrate as Australian wickets fall at regular intervals

Shannon Gabriel’s record eight-wicket haul set the stage for a sensational Windies run chase but sloppy batting, coupled with inclement weather, ensured an anti-climatic end as the second Test against Sri Lanka ended in a draw yesterday.

The final day at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground, which started with so much promise, ended with the Windies battling to save the contest and preserve their 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

Set 296 for victory with nearly three full sessions available, the Windies slumped to eight for two early on and were clinging on at 147 for five, when bad light drove players from the field.

To Sri Lanka’s dismay, rain had earlier arrived half an hour after the tea break with the Windies on 137 for five, causing a delay of just over an hour. When play finally resumed, only 15 balls were possible before the quickly diminishing light ended play again.

Throughout the turmoil of the day, opener Kraigg Brathwaite remained resolute with an unbeaten 59 and was accompanied by captain Jason Holder at the end on 15.

Shai Hope made 39, but no other batsman passed 15 as Sri Lanka’s seam attack made repeated inroads.

Brathwaite’s innings became especially important especially after partner Devon Smith (1) and Keiran Powell (2) perished in the fourth over of the innings, and he promptly put his immense powers of concentration on display in a knock lasting 172 balls, four and a half hours and including six fours.

Speedster Gabriel had earlier produced a career-best match haul of 13 for 121 – the third best overall figures by a Windies bowler in Tests – when he quickly wrapped up the Sri Lanka second.

Tottering on eight for two, West Indies then lost Hope, who retired hurt on six with the score on 25 for two – an hour before lunch – when he took a blow to the ribs off a short ball from the slippery pacer Lahiru Kumara.

Roston Chase replaced him and made 13 in extending the second-wicket stand to 47 before perishing in the penultimate over before lunch, bowled off-stump by speedster Suranga Lakmal (2-48) missing a defensive prod.

On 55 for three at lunch with the focus now only on survival, the Windies were further set back in the fourth over following the resumption when Shane Dowrich, yet to score at the break, perished for eight with nine runs added.

He prodded at one from off-spinner Danajaya and edged a catch to de Silva at first slip.

Hope returned and combined in a 53-run fifth wicket stand with Brathwaite that saw the Windies safely to tea without further loss, on 108 for four.

The right-handed Hope, unbeaten on 34 at the interval, had counted four fours and a six in an innings lasting 115 balls and two and a half hours when he fell in the fourth over following the resumption, bowled by Lakmal off his arm.

Brathwaite lofted Dananjaya down the ground in the next over to reach his 17th Test half-century before the heavens opened two overs later.

The final  test  at Kensington Oval in  Barbados begins on Saturday.

It  will be the first day/night Test to be played in the Caribbean.