It was a day full of drama but the Windies clung on to keep the series at 1-0 heading into the third and final Test, which starts on Saturday.
Sri Lanka were arguably favourites to secure a heroic win when the teams broke for lunch, with early inroads ruling out a Windies victory, but Kraigg Brathwaite provided enough resistance, aided by the injured Shai Hope and the weather, to secure a draw.
The final day in St. Lucia has began, and Shannon Gabriel has struck in the first over for his seventh of the innings! Will Sri Lanka's final-wicket stand add to their 334/9?#WIvSL LIVE ➡️ https://t.co/895YI3zUVf pic.twitter.com/OeWMXuPPAy— ICC (@ICC) June 18, 2018
Sri Lanka decided against an overnight declaration – Dinesh Chandimal instead opting for a late-order flurry on the morning of day five, which never materialised. Shannon Gabriel removed both Suranga Lakmal and Akila Dananjaya, lbw and bowled respectively, to oust Sri Lanka for 342. The towering quick celebrated his 13th wicket of the match and his 100th Test wicket in total. The Player of the Match also recorded the best match-figures by a West Indian Test player in the Caribbean, with 13/121.
Failure to add any meaningful runs to their overnight total proved to be a blessing for the tourists, as they made early breakthoughs in the Windies’ second innings. Kasun Rajitha removed both Devon Smith (1) and Kieran Powell (2) in the space of three deliveries, the former via an edge to second slip and the latter courtesy of a flick to short leg.
The burst brought Hope to the crease alongside Brathwaite, who both tried to dig in, but Hope was rapped on the left hip by a fierce bouncer from the strapping Lahiru Kumara, which forced him to leave the field at 25/2.
Roston Chase edged his first ball just short of slip and soon called for a chest and arm guard, much to the amusement of the Sri Lankans. The bounce was becoming increasingly deviant, as Rajitha and Kumara continued to test the technique and mental application of the Windies batsmen.
Back-to-back boundaries from Braithwaite hinted at a revival but Chase departed on the stroke of lunch, bowled by Lakmal.
Lakmal strikes before lunch in St. Lucia as West Indies go into the break 54/3! Big afternoon for the hosts, follow all the action on the 5th day here! 🔥#WIvSL LIVE ➡️ https://t.co/895YI3zUVf pic.twitter.com/q6W3wXzuUx— ICC (@ICC) June 18, 2018
Shane Dowrich survived a Lakmal lbw, which the Windies batsman correctly reviewed – it jagged back too much and was missing leg – but departed soon after, caught by Dhananjaya de Silva off the bowling of Dananjaya.
Brathwaite, meanwhile, was batting diligently, but at 65/4 the opener was running out of worthy partners to help blunt an impressive attack in testing conditions. Luckily, Hope gave the Windies just that when he returned to the crease.
The Windies faithful really needed the talented pair to bat out the second session, and they duly obliged, fending off all that Sri Lanka threw at them.
It's tea on the final day of the Test match, and despite Rajitha's excellent spell this morning, West Indies are battling to see this one out. Sri Lanka need six wickets to level the series! Follow all the action here👇#WIvSL LIVE ➡️ https://t.co/895YI3RvMN pic.twitter.com/GQWxKsDPxg— ICC (@ICC) June 18, 2018
But they didn’t completely disarm their attacking strokes, unafraid to hit over the ring-field at times. It was the type of pitch where attack was sometimes the best form of defence, especially with several close fielders deployed for the spinners.
After tea, Hope dragged on a delivery from Lakmal, which gave Sri Lanka a timely boost. The Windies No.4 departed for a 115-ball 39 but Brathwaite would soon bring up his fifty with a punch over the top.
It's all over in St. Lucia. West Indies and Sri Lanka must settle for a draw, as bad light brings the game to an early holt. It was a wonderful contest, epitomised by Shannon Gabriel who took 13 wickets. Now we look forward to the third Test! 🔥 #WIvSL pic.twitter.com/hD4AVD9iAS— ICC (@ICC) June 18, 2018
Then the rain came. Play was suspended for about 90 minutes before the players briefly returned to the field, which provided ample time for skipper Jason Holder to get a nasty blow to the box, before bad light stopped play and the match was finally brought to a close. It was a shame the overhead conditions scuppered what was likely to be a thrilling conclusion.