At the start of the final day of the first test between the touring West Indies and the hosts Sri Lanka, the latter had their work cut out. They had to bat out the day to force a draw. They had already received a hand from the rain gods in that quest and today they were on the threshold of their bid. The openers who were well-set from the previous day, tried to take on the challenge head on. But Tillakaratne Dilshan failed when in the fifth over, Windies fast bowler Kemar Roach got him out bowled with a surprising yorker. Dilshan had to depart for 54. In what turned out to be a dramatic over, Kumara Sangakarra who was in next, was dropped by Andre Russell at square leg with the ball running away to the boundary.
But that error didn't cost the Windies anything for just a couple of overs later, Roach snapped up Sangakarra's wicket when the batsman flashed one to slip. Mahela Jayawardene was the next man in and together with Paranavitana, who had just reached his fifty, built a creditable partnership. In fact, in the 35th over, Paranavitana counter-attacked by smacking Roach for two fours, one wide of mid on and the other through extra cover. Sammy and Shillingford started bowling in tandem, trying to keep up the pressure on the batsmen. But the two weathered the storm admirably and picked the ones and twos with ease.
In the 50th over, Windies captain Sammy brought in pacer Dwayne Bravo and then introduced Nash into the attack. But neither could get the breakthrough. Andre Russell and Shane Shillingford returned in due course, but that did little to unsettle the batsmen. After several quiet overs, Jayawardene cut loose when he glanced a leg-stump ball from Roach for four and a few balls later steered Roach past gully to pick up another boundary. But in the next over, Paranavitana perished when he edged a ball from Shillinford straight to slip. He had to leave the middle on the painful score of 95 and Sri Lanka were 197/3, just 5 runs shy of equalising with the Windies' score.
But the next man to take guard - Thilan Samaraweera - took Sri Lanka over the mark in emphatic style. He first picked up a four from Roach and then in the next over, smashed Shillingford for another boundary. There were fireworks at the other end as well for in the 77th over, Jayawardene carted Nash for a huge six over long off. Not to be outdone, Sameeraweera slapped Nash for a four through mid-wicket. But the same bowler accounted for Jayawardene's wicket in his next over, getting him caught and bowled with a deceptive slower one.
Then Angelo Mathews joined forces with Samaraweera to bat out the last few overs before rain intervened and forced the players off the field. In a couple of hours time, when the inclement weather hadn't yet let up, play was officially called off and the match was declared a draw.
It had been an interesting encounter over the past 5 days. The first two days belonged to the Windies as Chris Gayle came to the fore and the Windies amassed a huge total of 580/9. The tourists were pegged back in the last few overs of their innings, a development that rendered the Lankans a little momemtum going into their innings. But their batting performance in their first innings was wishy-washy with only a few good innings, including a valiant 73 from Sangakarra. But the Windies kept getting wickets at fairly regular intervals and bowled the hosts out for 378, just in time to enforce the follow-on and make Lanka bat again. The Sri Lankans second outing with the bat was more inspiring than the first, as Dilshan and Pranavitana put on a 100-run partnership, and there was a useful contribution from Jayawardene before Mathews, Samaraweera and the intervening rain sealed the draw. The Windies will be disappointed with the result, especially considering that they have been on top for most of the Test, but unfortunately, they couldn't control the weather and Sri Lanka survived.