Sri Lanka Board President’s XI took control of the West Indians’ three-day warm-up encounter at the SSC, as two young batsmen struck centuries. Udara Jayasundera remained unbeaten on 124 at stumps, by which time the hosts had whittled out a 24-run lead, with seven first-innings wickets in hand. Jayasundera had shared a 214-run stand with 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka, who hit an attractive 101 from 160 balls.
The partnership was all the more impressive for the state of the scoreline at its beginning. They had come together third ball after Kemar Roach had dismissed two batsmen from the Test squad in successive deliveries; Kusal Mendis was caught at point, and Lahiru Thirimanne offered an edge to the wicketkeeper. As Sri Lanka have picked only eight batsmen in its Test squad, Thirimanne’s failure is unlikely to force him out of the Test XI, but it does put further pressure on the batsman, who has had a modest home Test season so far.
Jayasundera was largely the more secure of the two batsman, and Bhanuka was the strokemaker who occasionally rode his luck, with thick edges either passing between or over the slips. Bhanuka was especially quick on the short ball, pulling and hooking the West Indians’ seamers, while Jayasundera relied more on his drive. They were circumspect against Roach and Jason Holder, who were the most disciplined of the quicks, but scored freely off the wayward Shannon Gabriel. Jerome Taylor was rested on Saturday, and did not bowl.
The West Indian spinners were unable to make a breakthrough on a pitch that had slowed down considerably. Frontline spinners Devendra Bishoo and Jomel Warrican both traveled at more than 4.5 runs an over. Holder removed Bhanuka late in the day, and the President’s XI went to stumps at 233 for 3.
Earlier in the day, Suraj Randiv had completed an impressive five-wicket haul when he removed Shai Hope and Holder on consecutive deliveries. Denesh Ramdin’s dismissal for 20 left West Indians at 166 for 9, but some big-hitting from Carlos Brathwaite, who struck four sixes and four fours in his 54, took the visitors to 202 all out
Scores: West Indians 127-6 contd 209 (Shai Hope 26, Denesh Ramdin 20, Carlos Brathwaite 54, Suranga Lakmal 3/26, Vishwa Fernando 2/39, suraj Randiv 5/73)
SL Board President’s XI 233-3 at close (Udara Jayasundera 124 n.o., Minod Bhanuka 101, K Roach 2/25)