GALLE // Tillakaratne Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana, the openers, helped Sri Lanka fight back to 89 without loss after being forced to follow on by West Indies on the fourth day yesterday of the rain-affected first Test.
Sri Lanka were out for 378, failing to avoid the follow on by only three runs, and stayed positive to trail West Indies by 113 when rain stopped play with 22 overs remaining. More than 80 overs have been lost to rain in the Test which is still likely to end in a draw.
Dilshan and Paranavitana were each 44 not out at stumps, hitting four boundaries each. Otis Gibson, the West Indies coach, expects his team to start today's final day with a winning mindset.
"Anything is possible, we are still 100-odd ahead at the moment," Gibson said. "We know it's tough. If we get a couple of wickets early who knows what will happen? The guys have to believe that they can still get some positives out of this game."
In the second session, Shane Shillingford (4-123), the West Indies spinner, and Kemar Roach (3-75), the paceman, shared seven wickets to bowl out Sri Lanka for 378 in its first innings in reply to 580 for nine declared by the visitors.
Gibson praised the way Shillingford bowled against the formidable Sri Lanka middle order on home ground. "Shane Shillingford is an exceptional spin bowler. He's been our best Test bowler over the last 12 months," Gibson said.
Prasanna Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka wicketkeeper who scored a half-century, said his team could save the match because the openers are batting well.
Resuming their first innings on 165 for three, Sri Lanka's situation looked bleak at lunch on 264 for six with all of their specialist batsmen having been dismissed and needing 117 more runs to avoid the follow on.
Mahela Jayawardene was caught behind off Roach for 52 to be the first dismissal of the day.
Thilan Samaraweera was unluckily run out for 52 when striker Anjelo Mathews drove straight and the ball deflected off bowler Dwayne Bravo's boot to the stumps, catching Samaraweera outside the crease at the non-striker's end.
He had hit six boundaries for his 24th Test half-century.
Mathews made 27 before being caught by Darren Sammy, the captain, off Shillingford on the stroke of lunch.
But Prasanna Jayawardene and tailender Dammika Prasad shared a 72-run stand in 73 balls for the eighth wicket and brought Sri Lanka close to avoiding the follow on.
Prasad, who made a career-best 47, including six boundaries and two sixes off 46 deliveries, became carried away by his aggression and was caught by Andre Russell in the deep off Shillingford.
West Indies 1st innings 580-9
Sri Lanka, 1st innings (overnight 165-3)
M J'dane c Baugh b Roach 59
Samaraweera run out 52
Mathews c Sammy b Shillingford 27
P J'dane c Roach b Shillingford 58
Randiv b Shillingford 12
Prasad c Russell b Shillingford 47
Mendis c DM Bravo b Roach 4
Thushara not out 4
Extras 8b, 8lb, 3w, 13nb 32
Total (all out, 95.2overs) 378
Fall of wickets: 4-193; 5-227; 6-264; 7-295; 8-367; 9-374; 10-378
Bowling: Roach 19-2-75-3; Russell 15-1-73-1; Shillingford 33.2-3-123-4; Sammy 11-2-41-0; DJ Bravo 16-4-47-1; Gayle 1-0-3-0
Sri Lanka, 2nd innings (following on)
Paranavitana not out 44
Dilshan not out 44
Extras 1w 1
Total (0 wickets, 22 overs) 89
Bowling: Roach 6-0-18-0; Russell 2-0-17-0; DJ Bravo 7-0-30-0; Shillingford 5-0-20-0; Sammy 2-0-4-0