Brathwaite, Mayers tighten Windies' grip on second Test

North Sound (Antigua and Barbuda) (AFP) –


Half-centuries by captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Kyle Mayers tightened West Indies' grip on the second Test against Sri Lanka on Thursday as the home side reached 173 for three in their second innings, an overall lead of 269, at tea on the fourth day.

Brathwaite's unbeaten 60 follows a patient 126 in the first innings with Mayers providing the necessary urgency in compiling 55 off 76 balls with eight fours in the afternoon session.

Mayers' positive play ideally complemented the opener's more measured pace and further solidified his spot at number four in the batting order since he made his Test debut in Bangladesh two months ago.

Suranga Lakmal, by some distance the best of the Sri Lankan bowlers on show, ended the tenure of the stocky left-hander with an lbw as Mayers missed an attempted pull to be struck in front for the seamer's second wicket of the innings.

A productive middle session now leaves Brathwaite with the luxury of dictating the pace of the game going into the final session in partnership with Jason Holder (18 not out).

After Kemar Roach polished off the Sri Lankan first innings at 258 by taking the last two wickets in the space of three deliveries in the fourth over of the morning, West Indies went in pursuit of quick runs to consolidate their position.

They lost John Campbell early, the left-handed opener again dismissed to a catch by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella off Lakmal.

New batsman Jermaine Blackwood lived a charmed life immediately on his arrival at the crease, surviving a confident leg-before appeal to Lakmal and then being badly dropped at first slip by Lahiru Thirimanne off the other opening bowler, Vishwa Fernando.

His luck eventually ran out with his score on 18, Dushmantha Chameera, the third pacer in the Sri Lankan bowling attack, inducing an edge for Dickwella to take his seventh catch of the innings.

Sri Lanka's efforts to limit West Indies' progress have been hampered by what appears to be a serious leg injury to Lasith Embuldenya, the left-arm spinner being taken off the field on a stretcher when an attempted sliding save in the outfield went badly wrong.

It all went wrong for them at the start of the day when Pathum Nissanka could only add two more runs to his overnight 49 before top-edging an attempted pull of Roach for substitute fielder Hayden Walsh Jr to take his second catch of the innings at deep square-leg.

Roach then wrapped up the innings by having last man Fernando caught behind to finish with figures of three for 58.