The West Indies were on Monday in deep trouble in the first Test against Sri Lanka as they collapsed to 113 for six at stumps on day two in reply to the hosts’ first innings total of 386 all out.
The tourists, hunting their first ever Test win in Sri Lanka, trailed by 273 runs with four wickets in hand in Galle.
After Sri Lanka’s quicks failed to take a wicket, the spinners made hay as off-spinner Ramesh Mendis claimed three wickets and left-arm orthodox duo Praveen Jayawickrama and Lasith Embuldeniya shared three wickets between them.
Openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood had added 46 runs for the first wicket before Embuldeniya provided the breakthrough trapping Blackwood leg-before for 20.
Jayawickrama was operating from the City End and Nkrumah Bonner gloved one to first slip where Dhananjaya de Silva took a low catch. He made one.
Mendis came into the attack in the 32nd over, replacing Jayawickrama and claiming two wickets in two balls to put the West Indies in all sorts of trouble.
He struck in the last ball of his first over when Brathwaite was caught at leg-slip.
Brathwaite had looked solid on his way to 41 off 115 deliveries with seven fours and had successfully overturned a decision before tea.
“Personally disappointed not to go on after getting a start,” he told reporters. “Hopefully I will make up next time.”
Mendis struck again in the first ball of his second over when Shai Hope was well caught by Oshada Fernando at short leg. He made 10.
Hope had come in as a concussion substitute for Jeremy Solozano. On his Test debut, Solozano was taken to hospital on the first morning when a full-blooded pull shot from Dimuth Karunaratne smashed into his helmet.
He spent the night under observation but scans revealed no serious injuries other than concussion and he returned to Galle and spent time in the team hotel after being discharged.
Jayawickrama changed ends and came on from the Dutch Fort End to pick up a second wicket as Jomel Warrican edged to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal and then exhausted a review as the West Indies middle order collapsed, losing four wickets for 20 runs.
Earlier, the West Indies bowled out Sri Lanka for 386, Roston Chase claiming a five-wicket haul.
Among his victims were Karunaratne, whose classy 147 came to an end when Joshua da Silva completed a smart stumping.
The West Indies still need 74 runs to avoid the follow-on, but Karunaratne wants to play it safe.
“I don’t think it’s the most sensible thing to do. Nobody wants to bat last in Galle,” he said.
“We need to first bowl them out and then put some runs on the board. It will give bowlers some breathing space too,” he added.
Karunaratne was involved in two hundred-plus stands with Pathum Nissanka (56) and Dhananjaya de Silva (61). Chandimal chipped in with 45 runs.