Lasith Embuldeniya took five wickets in the final innings as hosts Sri Lanka thrashed the West Indies by 187 runs in the first Test on Thursday to surge 1-0 up in the two-match series.
Chasing a hefty target of 348, West Indies were bowled out for 160 before tea on the final day, with Nkrumah Bonner the lone warrior with an unbeaten 68 on a turning wicket at Galle International Stadium.
Bonner was one of only three West Indies batters to make it into double figures in their second innings, along with Joshua Da Silva, who made 54, and Rahkeem Cornwall who managed 13.
Sri Lanka secured a 156-run first-innings lead thanks to a masterful 147 by Dimuth Karunaratne and four wickets by Praveen Jayawickrama helping to scuttle the visitors for 230.
With rain washing out some play and storm clouds threatening, Karunaratne starred again in Sri Lanka’s second innings with 83, aided by Angelo Mathews who made 69, to set the West Indies a mountainous task to win.
“I was worried leading into the Test match,” Karunaratne said.
“But something told me that if I get a good start, I will do well,” the skipper added. “It was a nervous start but I gained confidence the more I batted.”
On day four the hosts’ spin trio made quick work of the West Indies top order with a collapse seeing the tourists lose four wickets in 15 balls for just four runs.
Reeling on 52 for six at the start of the final day, the West Indies clung on with Bonner and Da Silva putting on 100, the West Indies’ highest partnership of the match.
Despite the wicket offering plenty of assistance, the two batters tackled the Sri Lankan spin threat well with clever use of footwork.
Three chances were also put down by Sri Lanka with Pathum Nissanka the guilty party each time.
It was a crucial seventh-wicket partnership for the tourists after they had been reduced to 18 for six on day four.
At that point, the West Indies were in danger of being shot out for their lowest score in Test cricket with the game ending inside four days.
Their lowest total was 47 all out against England in Jamaica in 2004.
“The first innings total is always important. We did not do well and were under pressure from that point onwards,” said West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite.
“It is difficult to play catch-up in Test cricket... We need to have clarity on our batting. Not just big shots, but we have to defend confidently too.”
Sri Lanka dismissed Da Silva 15 minutes before lunch when he was caught at slip by Dhananjaya de Silva to give Embuldeniya his third wicket in the innings. Da Silva’s 54 came off 129 balls and contained five fours.
Bonner on 41 was given out leg before wicket to Ramesh Mendis, but the batter successfully reviewed the decision.
But the West Indies, chasing their first-ever Test win in Sri Lanka, collapsed after lunch.
Embuldeniya finished the innings with a five-wicket haul while Mendis complemented him well with four wickets.