Questionable decisions help Sri Lanka take charge

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2008, 2:09 [IST]
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Sri Lanka benefited from two questionable decisions in the final half-hour before tea to enhance their chances of a maiden Test victory over West Indies in the Caribbean on Wednesday at the Guyana National Stadium.

At the break, West Indies, chasing a highly improbable, if impossible 437 for victory, reached 229 for six in their second innings with their captain Chris Gayle not out on 14, after left-handed Ryan Hinds was dubiously dismissed for 10 with two balls remaining before tea.

Muttiah Muralitharan was the beneficiary, when Hinds, again batting with the assistance of a runner because of a hamstring strain, was looking to bat through until the break.

The Sri Lanka off-spin legend bowled a delivery wide down the leg-side, and Hinds tried to swing it away behind square, and he was adjudged caught behind by umpire Simon Taufel.

Television replays seemed to suggest that Hinds did not make any contact, and Hinds unfortunately may face ICC Match Referee Chris Broad following the game for standing his ground.

Sri Lanka had also appeared to benefit, when umpire Billy Bowden adjudged West Indies vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw to Thilan Thushara for a well-played 72.

Television replays again showed that Thushara had run wide on the crease and his delivery appeared to be heading down the leg-side.

But there were no questions, when Chaminda Vaas bowled skillfully enough in the first hour after lunch to scalp Marlon Samuels caught behind for 10, and bowled Shivnarine Chanderpaul for three with a well-pitched delivery that breached the batsman's bat and pad.

The Sri Lankans had toiled for most of the morning before making a breakthrough just before West Indies reached lunch on 170 for two.

The Sri Lankans laboured for close to an hour and three-quarters before Muralitharan held a straightforward return catch to remove Dwayne Bravo for 83.

The visitors' hopes for early wickets were dashed, when Bravo and Sarwan stoutly resisted the Sri Lankan bowlers after West Indies continued from their bedtime total of 96 for one.

Sri Lanka began their attack with the spin bowling pair of Muralitharan and left-armer Rangana Herath, but neither posed a serious threat to Bravo and Sarwan.

This allowed Bravo to reach his 50 in the first half-hour, when he edged Muralitharan past slip fielder, Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene to third man for the seventh of his 10 fours which was adjudicated by the video umpire after Herath made a mad scramble to prevent the ball from reaching the boundary rope.

The Sri Lankans did not offer the West Indies' batsmen free runs though, and Sarwan had to wait until inside the final half-hour before the interval to reach his 50, when he cut Vaas' first delivery of the day through square cover for a single.

But the Sri Lankans finally reaped reward for their perseverance, when Bravo's petulance and Muralitharan's guile prevailed to bring to an end a record second-wicket stand for West Indies of 134 against these opponents.

Sri Lanka, eyeing a Test series victory for the first time in the Caribbean, have lost two and drawn two of their previous four Tests in this part of the World.

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