Port of Spain: Six wickets for West Indies’ spin pair of Roston Chase and Devendra Bishoo put the seal on a big victory for the hosts in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Port of Spain on Sunday.
The tourists had entered day five with hopes of snatching an incredible victory, needing 277 runs with seven wickets intact, and batting prodigy Kusal Mendis set to resume on 94.
The opener brought up a fifth Test century soon after the resumption, and while he was at the crease Sri Lanka could dare to dream. But six overs into the day, Shannon Gabriel, who bowled with unrestrained pace throughout the Test match, got a delivery to bounce a little extra and flick the glove on the way through to the keeper.
That dismissal perhaps ended Lankan hopes of a win, but they still held onto hopes of a draw, and as they entered the last over before lunch having only lost Mendis and nightwatchman Lahiru Gamage, who was pinned LBW by Bishoo, in the morning session, a rearguard action didn’t appear beyond them.
That over, however, would prove pivotal, as the tall off-spinner Roston Chase first enticed Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal into a big shot which he toe-ended to mid-off – a dereliction of duty in the circumstances – before sneaking one past Niroshan Dickwella’s forward push with the last ball of the over.
The double-strike put the result beyond doubt, but the speed of Sri Lanka’s demise should alarm the touring side, who came into the game with realistic hopes of earning a first Test series win in the Caribbean.
Nine balls after lunch Rangana Herath bat-padded Bishoo to Shai Hope at short leg, and five balls after that it was all over, Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara both nicking off to give Chase a four-wicket haul.
The eventual collapse read 5/8 in four overs, and did a slight disservice to a game in which both sides battled hard throughout.
Nonetheless, Windies were deserved winners, and can take heart not just in the last day spin performance, but in batting displays of class and determination from Player of the Match Shane Dowrich and Kieran Powell, and the hostility of Shannon Gabriel.
The two sides now head to St. Lucia for the second of three Tests, where the West Indies will attempt to seal the series, and Sri Lanka will attempt to fight back into contention.