Windies “A” fight but Sri Lanka “A” in control
Shane Shillingford continued to enjoy a good all-round match but at the close of play today West Indies “A” were facing defeat against Sri Lanka “A” in their first unofficial four-day Test at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota.
Shillingford was unbeaten on a stroke-filled 86-ball 56 as West Indies battled to 267 for 7, representing a paltry lead of 14.
Sri Lanka “A” legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna continued to torment the West Indies “A” batsmen, increasing his match tally to nine wickets, as the Carlos Brathwaite-led Windies “A” continued to play catch-up as they have been doing from the first day. Shillingford, batting at number eight, came to the crease with West Indies “A” on 169 for 6 having lost their skipper for 15 to Prasanna. The wily spinner had also earlier accounted for opener Assad Fudadin for 2. West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite suffered his second failure of the match when he was caught by Jehan Mubarak off medium-pacer Lahiru Gamage for 2.
West Indies “A”, who began the day with their first-innings score at 96 for 7, lasted only 12 overs, as Prasanna collected 6 for 64 to bowl them out for 160. Chadwick Walton compiled a half-century (50 with five 4s, two 6s) but received little support from the lower-order batsmen, as the hosts earned a 253-run lead and put West Indies “A” in again.
They fare slightly better in their second turn at bat. Despite the lost of Brathwaite and Fudadin inside 14 overs, West Indies “A” fought back through the efforts of Kirk Edwards who made 76 batting at number three and the number five batsman Jermaine Blackwood who made 39. They briefly stopped the slide with a 77-run stand for the third wicket.
However, once they were parted the familiar slide ensued. From 117 for 2, West Indies “A” slumped to 175 for 7, as Prasanna and Gamage struck at regular intervals. Blackwood was dismissed by Gamage in the 33rd over and he was followed back to the pavilion by Andre Fletcher in the 35th over caught by captain Upul Tharanga off Gamage for six, his second failure of the game.
The visitors suffered a crucial blow in the 42nd over when the mainstay of the innings, Edwards, was bowled by Prasanna. Edwards, who had a torrid time in the West Indies during the series against Bangladesh, faced 117 balls and struck eight boundaries and two sixes.
With more than 25 overs of play left, Sri Lanka looked set to wrap up the game with an innings victory, but Shillingford counterattacked with gusto smashing three fours and five sixes, while adding an unbroken 92 with Nikita Miller to guide the visitors safely to stumps.