Sri Lanka ring in changes, opt to bat; Herath left out

Sri Lanka 79 for 3 (Mendis 26*, Chandimal 8*) v West Indies


Shannon Gabriel struck twice with the kind of brutal new-ball spell that is becoming a trend for him in this series and Kemar Roach removed Kusal Perera shortly before lunch. Although Sri Lanka batted first on a track their captain expected to be friendly, the visitors found themselves at 79 for 3 by the end of the first session.

Of Gabriel’s wickets, the ball to dismiss Dhananjaya de Silva might be the most consequential. Not just because de Silva was batting well – he had hit two Gabriel bouncers for four earlier in the innings – but because it may have put de Silva out of the Test. Having got a another short ball to jag sharply back in, Gabriel hit de Silva on the back elbow as the ball ricocheted onto the stumps.

De Silva dropped his bat, and dropped to his knees immediately, in obvious pain as a triumphant Gabriel ran past him to celebrate with his teammates. The Sri Lanka physio came on to take him off the field, an ice pack applied to the affected area. Later, de Silva was seen with his arm in a sling. If scans reveal a fracture, he will be out of the tour. He had also missed the first Test due to the death of his father.

The two other dismissals were those of the openers. Mahela Udawatte lasted only two balls on Test debut, squared up by Gabriel, who drew a thick edge. Jason Holder dived across from third slip to snaffle the chance, very close to the ground. Kusal Perera, meanwhile, had showed a little patience agains Kemar Roach, who tried to tempt him into the booming cover drive, with a series of wide, swinging, half-volleys.

Initially Perera resisted, but before long he began playing at the odd ball, and he missed repeatedly, Roach’s deliveries deviating too much off the seam. He seemed uncomfortable at the crease for much of his 55-ball stay, mis-hitting plenty of balls, though he also struck five fours. In the end, Roach got him with one that did not move much. Angled in from wide of the stumps, the short-of-a-length ball took the shoulder of his bat and looped to third slip. Perera made 32.

Kusal Mendis was Sri Lanka’s most fluent batsman, but even he had his close calls, beaten on several occasions, and almost caught by the keeper on the stroke of lunch. He began with two cuts for four off Gabriel. Later, he would mistime him down the ground for another boundary, and flick him to fine leg for a fourth. Last ball before lunch, Gabriel would have had him out, had the wicketkeeper been able to reach one inch higher.

Mendis tried to ramp a short-of-a-length ball over the slips, but did connect as well as he wanted to. The ball flew over wicketkeeper’s head – Shane Dowrich only able to get the tips of his webbing to that ball, before it continued on to the boundary.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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