March 22 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka seamer Suranga Lakmal took five wickets to rip through the West Indies middle order but a fightback from all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall kept the hosts in the driving seat after the second day of the first test in North Sound, Antigua, on Monday.
West Indies went to the close on 268 for eight, a first-innings lead of 99 which could already be decisive on an abrasive surface that will get harder to score on.
Cornwall, who was born in Antigua, had his maiden test half-century and was 60 not out having put on an excellent stand of 90 for the eighth wicket with the more circumspect Joshua Da Silva, before the latter was out just before the close for 46 from 124 balls.
The hosts will hope to drive home their advantage after winning the toss and sending Sri Lanka into bat. They dismissed the visitors for 169 inside 70 overs on the opening day as seamer Jason Holder took 5-27 in his first test appearance since being replaced as West Indies captain.
West Indies were in trouble in their reply after starting the day on 13 without loss.
Lakmal (5-45) had skipper Kraigg Brathwaite caught by Dhananjaya de Silva at second slip for three with a ball that moved away from the right-hander, and repeated the trick to dismiss left-handed Kyle Mayers in the same fashion after the latter had compiled a stylish 45.
Lakmal’s ability to get the ball to move both ways was again perfectly illustrated as Jermaine Blackwood was bowled by an in-swinger for two, before Holder got an inside edge and had his stumps rattled on 19.
When Alzarri Joseph was caught by Dinesh Chandimal at point trying to drive the tall seamer, Lakmal completed his fourth five-wicket haul in tests and had the home side reeling at 171 for seven, a lead of just two runs.
But the burley Cornwall and Da Silva turned the tide of the test again as the former took the attack to the bowlers and the latter proved the perfect foil in tiring the visitors’ seamers on a sweltering day with his solid defence.
West Indies are playing their first home test in 18 months, while Sri Lanka are looking to reverse their recent poor form in the five-day format that has seen them lose their last four tests, two each to South Africa and England. (Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon)
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