Kraigg Brathwaite completed a ninth Test century and was eventually last out for 126 on the stroke of lunch as the West Indies totalled 354 in their first innings on day two of the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Antigua on Tuesday.
Suranga Lakmal led the visitors’ effort with figures of four wickets for 94 runs from 28 overs as the experienced fast-medium bowler finally broke through for the tourists halfway through the morning session when he ended a 103-run eighth-wicket partnership between Brathwaite and Rahkeem Cornwall.
Very much the aggressor for the two-and-a-half hours of their time in the middle at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, Cornwall went past his previous best in Tests — 61 in the first innings of the first Test just a week earlier at the same venue.
He may have even been entertaining the prospect of a maiden Test hundred on his home ground when a miscued heave to the on-side offered a simple catch to Vishwa Fernando at mid-on.
Cornwall’s 73 came off 92 balls and was embellished by 10 fours and one six.
Captain Brathwaite, who resumed on 99 overnight and went to three figures by turning the third ball of the morning from Lakmal to fine leg, never accelerated out of first gear through his eight-and-a-half-hour vigil, even with the demise of Cornwall.
The opener had carried his bat through the day to the brink of his first Test century since 2018. He took over the captaincy in February from Jason Holder, and has been dying for a big score after only three half-centuries in 16 innings over the past year.
He eventually stroked two more boundaries to add to his tally of 11 from day one but then saw the dismissal of Kemar Roach off Dushmantha Chameera, giving wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella his fifth catch of the innings.
Joined by last man Shannon Gabriel, someone with no batting pretensions, it seemed almost inevitable that Brathwaite would complete the rare feat of carrying his bat through a completed Test innings twice, having done so previously against Pakistan in Sharjah in 2016.
But it was the skipper who perished, playing on for 126 and giving Chameera a third wicket of the innings. Brathwaite’s marathon effort, during which he went past 4,000 Test runs, occupied 311 deliveries in which he stroked 13 fours.