Sri Lanka's hopes sink in West Indies rain

Published: Friday, April 4, 2008, 2:23 [IST]
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Rain saved Sri Lanka from further trouble before tea on the rain-hit opening day of the second and final Test against West Indies on Thursday at the Queen's Park Oval.

At the break, Sri Lanka, sent in to bat, were 139 for five in their first innings with Tillakeratne Dilshan not out on 11 and Chamara Silva not out on the same score.

Three stoppages for rain limited the two sides to 12.2 overs after lunch with Sri Lanka crashing from a comfortable 89 for two to 117 for five.

When play continued following a 20-minute delay after lunch, only 27 minutes were possible, and Michael Vandort was caught by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin down the leg-side off Fidel Edwards for 30.

Sri Lanka were 98 for three when play was again interrupted for just over an hour, and officials revised the playing times to utilise the additional hour available to them under the playing conditions.

When play resumed, another intriguing 45 minutes were possible, but it was another brutal period for Sri Lanka.

Thilan Samaraweera, groping at a delivery outside the off-stump, was caught by West Indies captain Chris Gayle at first slip for six off Jerome Taylor, who also bowled Mahela Jayawardene for 26 with a delivery that moved late and clipped the outside of the Sri Lanka captain's off-stump.

But the clouds continued to hover and soon drenched the Caribbean's most used international venue.

Edwards was the West Indies' most successful bowler with three wickets for 40 runs from 11 overs, while Taylor has collected two for 36 from 10 overs.

Before lunch, Sri Lanka were wobbling when Edwards captured two wickets in the final hour before the interval.

After a shaky start, Vandort and Malinda Warnapura grew in confidence and Sri Lanka strode confidently to 62 without loss before Edwards struck twice in the space of 12 balls.

Warnapura, playing loosely off the back-foot, edged a drive and was caught low at third slip for 35 in Edwards' third over, and Sri Lanka vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara was caught behind for 10 playing defensively forward in the fast bowler's fourth over to leave the visitors 72 for two.

Greeted by a helpful Queen's Park Oval pitch, things had gone Sri Lanka's way in the first hour of the morning.

Vandort was fortunate that umpire Billy Bowden ruled in his favour, when Daren Powell appealed for an lbw verdict off the second ball of the match.

Television replays suggested that the tall, left-handed Sri Lanka opener was hit plumb in front by a fast, full, straight delivery which pitched on a length, on the line of middle stump, and straightened.

Warnapura, on 12, then saw Dwayne Bravo floor a regulation chance at third slip off Taylor with Sri Lanka on 21 without loss in the sixth over.

Vandort too, benefitted from the West Indies' epidemic of sloppy catching, when Powell failed to grab a sharp return catch with Sri Lanka on 39 without loss in the 11th over.

In between their run of good fortune, the two Sri Lanka openers put away anything loose with Warnapura striking eight boundaries including a handsome-looking drive through mid-off off Taylor, and Vandort five fours, one of them a sweetly-timed flick off Powell.

West Indies made two changes to their line-up.

They brought in left-handed opener Sewnarine Chattergoon and fast bowler Edwards to replace injured left-handed batsman Ryan Hinds and left-arm spin bowler Sulieman Benn.

Sri Lanka also made two changes.

They included Silva for injured wicketkeeper/batsman Prasanna Jayawardene, and fast bowler Ishara Amerasinghe came in for his debut for left-arm spin bowler Rangana Herath.

Sri Lanka lead the series 1-0, after they won the opening Test in Guyana by 121 runs.

If they win the Test, Sri Lanka will confirm their first Test series win on Caribbean soil, and become the first side visiting the Caribbean to sweep a Test series of any length.

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