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Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2021: Hosts Take Upper Hand With Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s Unbeaten Ton

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne slammed an unbeaten hundred to give his team the upper hand in Sunday’s opening Test against the West Indies, whose debutant Jeremy Solozano was taken to hospital after being hit on the helmet while fielding. Bad light forced an early end to the day’s play in Galle with two overs remaining and the hosts finishing on 267-3.

Karunaratne batted through the day after winning the toss on a slow surface, making a 139-run stand for the first wicket with Pathum Nissanka. Part-time spinner Roston Chase dismissed Oshada Fernando and Angelo Mathews for three each in quick succession to bring the West Indies back into the game. But Sri Lanka wrestled back the initiative as Karunaratne shared a 97-run partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva for the fourth wicket.

This was Karunaratne’s 13th Test century and fourth this year. He has bagged more than 750 runs in 2021, including a career-best 244 against Bangladesh, despite only playing 10 innings. West Indies had a scare when Karunaratne attempted a full-blooded pull shot off the bowling of Chase and the ball crashed onto the helmet grill of Solozano, who was fielding at short leg. Medical staff attended to him on the ground before he was taken on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

He underwent scans at a hospital in Colombo, and will be kept overnight for observation, the West Indies said in a media release. Shannon Gabriel provided the breakthrough for the tourists when he had Nissanka — who was chasing a full delivery wide outside the off-stump — caught by Rahkeem Cornwall at first slip for 56. But they squandered an opportunity to dismiss Karunaratne on 14, when Cornwall found the outside edge of the bat but Jermaine Blackwood at slip was unable to hold on as he attempted a one-handed grab.

West Indies unsuccessfully reviewed after Karunaratne played an uncharacteristic reverse sweep off the left-arm orthodox spin of Jomel Warrican and the ball struck his front pad. Television replays showed the impact was outside off-stump.  The tourists lost their second review over a caught-behind appeal against Nissanka off the bowling of Chase.

They were denied a second wicket in the afternoon session when Warrican failed to take a return catch with Fernando on three.  But the reprieve was brief, with Fernando well caught by Nkrumah Bonner at short leg to give Chase his first wicket. Mathews’ half-an-hour stay at the crease was unconvincing and West Indies kept attacking with tight field settings.

In a bid to break the shackles, Mathews took on Chase attempting to clear the boundary but found the lone fielder Jason Holder at mid-wicket. West Indies took the second new ball soon after 80 overs but could not break the Karunaratne–de Silva partnership.   The tourists had surprised fans by leaving out Kemar Roach, their most experienced player and the eighth-highest Test wicket taker.

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