The teams were left to squabble over the psychological advantage in the final two sessions of the match – perhaps the only meaningful thing that hadn’t been washed out by the Colombo weather , and the fifth day’s play included a West Indies lower order collapse, an adventurous declaration by Kumar Sangakkara, as well as an intense period of spin bowling.
Sri Lanka mopped up the remaining West Indies first-innings wickets in less than two hours in the afternoon, but not before a composed half-century from Carlton Baugh took the visitors well past the follow-on target, effectively removing any chance of a result. Baugh successfully challenged two lbw decisions that initially went against him – the first one off Ajantha Mendis’ first delivery of the day, which replays showed to have pitched outside the leg stump, and then off Herath, whose offbreak was missing the stumps, in the course of boosting the West Indies to 243, along with the tail.
Herath continued to toss the ball up despite being slammed by Dwayne Bravo for a six and a four in his first over of the day, and reaped the rewards in his second. Bravo advanced, attempting to repeat the fireworks of the previous over, but was completely foxed by the flight. Prasanna Jayawardene made no mistake behind the stumps.
Darren Sammy did little to quell fears that his position in the team may be unwarranted with a three-ball two, and Herath removed Sulieman Benn and later, Baugh – albeit after a brief resistance – to ensure that he remained in contention for the starting XI for the third Test that starts on Wednesday.
The Sri Lanka batsmen made a solid start in the evening session against a West Indies attack that lacked intensity, perhaps in light of the stale state of the Test match. Several of Tillakaratne Dilshan’s trademark flashes outside the offstump found themselves rocketing to the fence before he was dismissed by Dwayne Bravo, and Kumar Sangakkara made a surprise declaration soon after, with his side 201 runs ahead and too little time left in the day to realistically push for a win.
The ploy paid off for the hosts, however, as they put pressure on the West Indies top order with ten overs of testing bowling, and gained a psychological upper hand going in to the last Test of the series. Dilshan was particularly impressive in his five over spell, varying his lengths to perfection as he tormented them with bounce and turn. Both West Indies openers were dismissed before bad light put an end to play – Adrian Barath falling to an Ajantha Mendis googly, and Chris Gayle offering a simple slip catch off Dilshan, leaving Sri Lanka the more confident of the two sides heading to Pallekele.