The West Indies responded to their First Test embarassment with an inspired bowling and fielding performance to restrict Sri Lanka to a manageable 200 at the end of the first day of the Second test in Galle.
Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican was the first day's hero as he collected four wickets on debut. On a pace friendly pitch that is expected to provide turn early in the test, Warrican replaced Shannon Gabriel in the Windies XI. The three remaining pacers Taylor, Roach and Holder were able to do the damage in Gabriel's absence as they captured the top five Sri Lankan wickets before the spinners cleaned up the tail. Devendra Bishoo claimed one wicket to go along with the debutant's four, from just eight overs.
The West Indies resumed on 17/1 on Day 2, makeshift opener Shai Hope being the one batsman back in the pavilion. Heading into this test, Captain Jason Holder inplored his batsmen to do their part after Sri Lanka had won by an innings in the last test. His appeal fell on deaf ears as the West Indies batsmen struggled to 163 all out. Vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaithe top-scored with a resolute 47 while Holder's 21 was the second highest. That was the extent of the fight, or lack thereof, in the West Indies batting ranks.
Marlon Samuels, who put unwanted pressure on himself with a pre-series claim of being ready to "score big" following up on his statement earlier this year that he could dominate any spin bowler, could only manage thirteen pain staking runs. His self proclaimed readiness was shown to be a sham by two appeals for LBW before avoiding a third duck in a row. He spent the rest of the time scratching around for 13 runs, including two more close LBW appeals before he decided he had enough and played a lazy shot just before lunch to be caught in the slips. His innings typified the batting on display. Half centurions in the first test match, Darren Bravo and Jermaine Beckford, could only manage 2 and 16 respectively before falling to the pace of Prasad who claimed four wickets himself.
Sri Lanka closed the day on 76/2 in their second innings, Warrican and Taylor the wicket takers. Once again, the pressure is back on the West Indies. Perhaps bowling coach Curtly Ambrose can inspire his bowlers into restricting the Sri Lankans lead to manageable proportions. But one wonders, as a bowler, where is the motivation to bowl out of their skins again only to see the batsmen fail again?
This test is far from over but acting coach Eldine Baptiste has a massive task ahead to get the players mentally ready to keep going. From the evidence shown thus far the task looks beyond him.