At the start of Day 4 of the first test against the West Indies, hosts Sri Lanka had a lot of work ahead of them in pursuance of the tourists' first innings total of 580/9 and to clear the follow-on mark of 381. Batsmen Mahela Jayawardene who was not out on 51, and Samaraweera, unbeaten on 11, got right down to business.
Windies' pace bowler Kemar Roach had Samaraweera on the back foot in the 45th over when there was a huge appeal for lbw against him. But he survived and in the next over got on top of the spinner Shillingford, sending him for three boundaries, one a square cut, one a pull through mid-wicket and the third, an elegant drive through the covers. The score was 181/3 and the Lankans seemed well on the way to a recovery from the initial blows.
In the 48th over, Jayawardene was in for a slice of luck when he was dropped by Dwayne Bravo at leg slip off Shillingford. But that error didn't prove costly for the Windies for in the fortuitous next over, Jayawardene cut Roach square for a four only to fall to him in the following ball. The delivery pitched outside off and held its line, inducing a faint tickle from Jayawardene which went through to the keeper's gloves and Roach had got his man. Mahela Jayawardene had to depart for 59 with the Sri Lankans deeper in trouble at 193/4.
Samaraweera and the new man Angelo Mathews, began putting on a partnership, but it was just blossoming when a terrible error cost the former his wicket. Angelo straight drove the ball, when Bravo stuck out his boot to deflect it onto the stumps at the non-striker's end, where Samaraweera was just out of his crease. The batsman had to leave the centre on a well-made 52 when he promised so much more.
Prasanna Jayawardene joined Mathews in the middle, but the latter was not looking very steady. He nearly gave a return catch to Andre Russell when he bottom-edged a ball that hit Russell's outstretched hand and landed safely on the pitch. In the next over, Mathews top-edged a bouncer from Sammy and saw it swirl in the sky before just evading a running Roach at the fine-leg boundary. Then in the 74th over, Shillingford struck to remove Mathews by drawing him into a shot in which he got an inside egde and popped up a catch to leg slip. Mathews was out for 27, the score was 264/6 and the Windies went into lunch having opened up the Lankan tail.
After lunch, Jayawardene and Suraj Randiv tried to extricate Sri Lanka from the mess it had got into. Randiv played some positive strokes, including a four to square leg off Shillingford in the 76th over. Jayawardene appeared to be keeping up his end well. In the 78th over, Jayawardene went after Shilliingford, launching him over long-on for a six before taking three more runs to backward of point. In the next over, Russell foxed Randiv with a slower-ball, inducing an edge, but the ball didn't carry to the keeper. Later in the over, Randiv returned to slap Russell for a boundary.
But in the very next over, Shillingford had Randiv out bowled for 12 and Sri Lanka were reeling at 295/7. Dammika Prasad was the next man to take guard, but things were looking very bleak indeed for Sri Lanka who was badly in need of a sizable partnership. The two took Sri Lanka to over 300 and in the 83rd over, Prasad got stuck into Russell, hitting the paceman for two successive fours, one through mid-wicket and one, a late cut. A few overs later, Prasad got on top of Roach, thumping him for two consecutive fours.
In the 89th over, Jayawardene reached his half-century. It was a creditable innings under pressure. In the 91st over, Prasad again went ballistic, carting Sammy for a huge six over deep midwicket and then sending him for a four in the same region. Sri Lanka had moved past the 350-run mark. But just three shy of his 50, Prasad ran out of steam when he holed out to Russell in the deep off Shillingford. Sri Lanka were now 367/8.
Ajantha Mendi joined Jayawardene in the middle, but he didn't last longing, going to Roach for just 4. At 374/9, Sri Lanka were looking at the end of their innings. The new batsman Thilan Thushara, got off the mark in aggressive fashion, hitting Roach for a four in just his second ball. But Jayawardene couldn't keep up his end and went down to Shillingford in the 96th over. The bowler had picked up 4 wickets, effecting a semi collapse of the hosts.
Sri Lanka were all out for 378, missing the follow-on mark by just 3 runs and handing the Windies a sizable lead of 202 runs after the first innings. The Windies put Sri Lanka in to bat again. Tillkaratne Dilshan , who was on a pair was naturally keen to get off the mark and did so in emphatic style, hitting Russell for four at midwicket. Tharanga Paranavitana clipped Russell for a backward-of-square-leg boundary later in the over. The batsmen took Sri Lanka to 31/0 at tea.
After the break, Sri Lanka raced to the 50-run mark in just 12.1 overs. The openers had settled in nicely and were playing each shot with confidence. Both batsmen were on the verge of notching up half-centuries when rain intervened and play was called off for the day. Sri Lanka still have a long way to go, but they have made a positive start after following-on. It is upto the Windies now to see if they can shoot the opposition out.