The pair have put on 103 with Sri Lanka going wicketless in the second session
Tea West Indies 271 and 181 for 2 (Bonner 84*, Mayers 50*) trail Sri Lanka 169 and 476 (Nissanka 103, Dickwella 96, Oshada 91) by 194 runs
Nkrumah Bonner and Kyle Mayers puttered West Indies forward, not at any great pace, but briskly enough, and most importantly of all, safely. In a session that brought 90 runs, West Indies did not lose a single wicket, substantially depleting chances of a Sri Lanka win.
A draw now seems the likeliest outcome. But is a West Indies win still possible? It would take serious heroics from either team to force a result in the final session. Sri Lanka need eight wickets. West Indies have to score at roughly 5.5 an over in the 35 overs remaining. The pitch is not doing a lot for seamers or spinners anymore, and the ball isn’t misbehaving off the rough. But then scoring isn’t exactly easy either – this track has slowed down.
West Indies were more proactive in this session than he had been in the morning, as the ball grew older, and Sri Lanka’s bowlers less disciplined. Mayers did a lot of the scoring early in the session, venturing boundaries off the quicks in particular as they went searching for wickets. Not all Mayers’ strokes were convincing, but neither did they produce any serious scares.
Bonner was slower to work himself in after lunch. He survived a caught behind decision on 50 (he hadn’t scored a run in the session at that stage), after he reviewed immediately, and the ball from Lasith Embuldeniya was shown to have passed by his edge. He did venture one big stroke in the first hour – a slog-swept six off Embuldeniya to start the 58th over, before he edged Vishwa Fernando through vacant third slip the over after that. There was one more period of action, when he hit Embuldeniya for two legside fours in three balls towards the end of the session. Otherwise, though, Bonner’s progress was steady, but confident. His strength was finding regular singles square of the wicket. He went to tea on 84 off 204 deliveries.
Mayers was more adventurous, without being especially attacking either. Dushmantha Chameera raised a strong lbw appeal against him soon after lunch, but although Sri Lanka reviewed, the ball was shown to have pitched outside leg stump. Mayers was untroubled after that. He creamed Suranga Lakmal through the covers next over, cut Embuldeniya past slip (a little streakily, but far enough away from the fielder) soon after that, and like Bonner, settled into a rhythm of singles. He reached fifty off the last ball he faced in the session, getting to the milestone off his 109th delivery.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers were less accurate after lunch, perhaps straining for wickets, but the fields the visitors employed were also not especially attacking. Perhaps captain Dimuth Karunaratne was wary of West Indies’ potential to run down big targets, after that chase of 395 in Chattogram last month. There was rarely a third slip in place during this session, and the spinners operated with men in the deep, down the ground, rather than challenging the batsmen to hit over a packed infield.
Embuldeniya was unable to find the kind of dramatic turn he sometimes gets in Sri Lanka. And in general Sri Lanka’s attack appeared tenacious, but tired.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf