Stumps Sri Lanka 29 for 0 (Thirimanne 17*, Karunaratne 11*) and 258 (Thirimanne 55, Nissanka 51, Roach 3-58) need another 348 runs to beat West Indies 354 and 280 for 4 dec (Brathwaite 85, Holder 71*, Mayers 55, Lakmal 2-62)
West Indies surged into command on day four as half centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite, Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder helped set up a 377-run target for Sri Lanka in the second Test in Antigua. West Indies batted quickly in the absence of a frontline spinner - Lasith Embuldeniya did not bowl in the innings after being stretchered off early on day four with a leg injury sustained in the field - to rack up 280 for 4 before declaring in their second innings.
Although at the start of the day it had taken West Indies less than five overs to take the two remaining Sri Lanka first-innings wickets, the visitors' openers held firm in the nine overs they had to face before stumps in their second dig. As the surface is yet to seriously misbehave, Sri Lanka may have some hope that they can replicate West Indies' batting effort from the last day of the first Test and play out an entire day.
Nevertheless, this is a daunting prospect, partly because this surface is drier than the pitch from the first match had been at a similar stage; Rahkeem Cornwall's offspin in particular could become definitive on day five.
Of West Indies' three half-centuries, Brathwaite's was the one that gave the innings its backbone. Having already made 126 in the first innings, one might have excused a brasher approach in the second dig with his team sitting on a 96-run cushion. Yet, he put his head down and ground out 85 off 196 balls while more aggressively-minded batsmen sent West Indies' lead skipping forward around him.
Brathwaite left the ball a lot, blocked even more and focused on picking runs into the outfield to almost a total exclusion of hitting boundaries for large parts of his innings. His first four was off a shortish Dhananjaya de Silva delivery, which he slapped through the covers. Then he spent a whopping 134 deliveries without a boundary at all. Only when West Indies were batting quickly to set up a declaration did Brathwaite move into a more positive frame of mind, hitting three boundaries in the space of 15 balls.
Both Mayers and Holder produced much more lively innings. Mayers' 55 off 76 was quiet to begin with, but typically fun once he got his bearings. He hit eight fours in his innings, including six through the legside as he rocked back to drag balls across the line - particularly through midwicket - on a sluggish surface. Mayers survived a close lbw appeal against the bowling of de Silva - DRS showed the ball to be clipping the bails in an umpire's call verdict - but was otherwise largely untroubled until his eventual dismissal when he was given lbw to Suranga Lakmal. Again, the ball was clipping the bails; but this time, the umpire's call went in favour of the bowling team.
Holder's 71 not out off 88 balls then powered West Indies through the latter half of the afternoon session until his team's declaration 48 minutes before stumps. Holder was busy rather than brutal, venturing frequent singles and twos, striking just eight boundaries. His 87-run stand with Brathwaite was the most productive West Indies partnership while Brathwaite also shared an 82-run stand with Mayers.
That West Indies were able to score so freely after lunch and tea, however, was because Sri Lanka lost a key bowler early in the day. Embuldeniya is the only specialist spinner in the XI, but he appeared to sustain a serious groin injury in the first few overs of West Indies' second innings when he made a sliding save in the outfield. Having writhed on the ground for several minutes clutching the inside of his left thigh, he was finally taken away in an ambulance to a local hospital for an MRI scan.
Although hamstrung, Sri Lanka's bowlers were nevertheless largely disciplined. Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera shared the four wickets to fall, taking two apiece, despite both going at a touch more than four runs an over. De Silva had to step up with his part-time offspin to compensate for Embuldeniya's absence. He bowled 28 overs in this innings - the majority of those in one unbroken spell and gave away only 81 runs.
Early in the day, at the tail end of Sri Lanka's first innings, Pathum Nissanka completed his half-century, taking the single he required to reach the milestone three balls into the morning. But Sri Lanka could only add eight to their overnight score, as Nissanka and No. 11 Vishwa Fernando fell in the same Kemar Roach over. Nissanka was out mis-timing a hook, which settled in the hands of substitute Hayden Walsh Jr at deep square leg, while Vishwa edged a ball behind two deliveries later.
Sri Lanka giving up a 96-run lead was their biggest mistake in this Test, but there were also dropped catches on day four that were dispiriting. Jermaine Blackwood - who had moved up to No. 3 in the place of the injured Nkrumah Bonner - was dropped in the slips off the bowling of Vishwa, though it ended up not costing too many runs. Oshada Fernando made a far costlier mistake, when he couldn't grasp a ball that was whizzing above his head at short leg. Brathwaite had been on 34 at the time.
All told, it means Sri Lanka still need 348 runs on the final day, an unlikely but not insurmountable task to achieve their first ever Test series win in the West Indies.