Samaraweera and Vaas spark Sri Lanka fightback

Published: Sunday, April 6, 2008, 1:04 [IST]
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Thilan Samaraweera and Chaminda Vaas led a Sri Lanka fightback before tea on the third day of the second and final Test against West Indies on Saturday at Queen's Park Oval.

At the break, Sri Lanka, trailing by 16 runs on first innings, reached 151 for six in their second innings with Samaraweera unbeaten on 51 and Vaas not out on 26.

The pair added 52 for the seventh wicket to help ease the bleeding of wickets which saw Sri Lanka capsize to 99 for six in the first hour after lunch.

Samaraweera reached his 50 when he drove his 99th delivery from Dwayne Bravo through square cover for a single.

Sri Lanka had struggled earlier when they reached lunch on 78 for five.

Chamara Silva had batted for close to 45 minutes after the interval to frustrate West Indies before Jerome Taylor had him caught at gully for 13.

Vaas came to the crease and with Samaraweera defied everything the West Indies attack had to throw at them to carry their side through until tea.

But Samaraweera was fortunate that umpire Billy Bowden ruled a palpable lbw verdict "not-out", when Bravo deceived him with a well-pitched delivery that moved back from outside the off-stump.

Before lunch, Sri Lanka suffered a batting meltdown to again concede the advantage to West Indies.

The visitors had dismissed West Indies for 294 in their first innings 50 minutes after the start with Muttiah Muralitharan ending with five wickets for 79 runs from 29.2 overs.

But the Sri Lankans soon found themselves in strife, as the home team's fast bowlers, led by Taylor, gained appreciable bounce and movement from the lively pitch and ran through their opponents' top order.

Taylor has been the West Indies' most successful bowler so far with three wickets for 44 runs from 12 overs and also contributed a run out to help put the skids on the Sri Lankan batting.

Sri Lanka suffered a double setback in the second over of their innings, when Malinda Warnapura was caught at third slip for a duck off Taylor, whose direct hit at the striker's end three balls later ran out Michael Vandort for one to leave the visitors on four for two.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene joined his deputy Kumar Sangakkara and only briefly managed to stem the flow of wickets before they were both dismissed in the space of seven balls.

Jayawardene was bowled for 12 by Fidel Edwards dragging the ball into his stumps, and next over, Sangakkara failed to keep down a rising ball from Daren Powell and was caught at gully for 14 to sink Sri Lanka to 32 for four.

Tillakeratne Dilshan batted the only way he knows how before Taylor bowled him for 25 with a fast, straight, full length delivery that sent the batsman's off-stump cart-wheeling.

Sri Lanka had conceded a narrow first innings lead thanks to their hosts, after the West Indies showed there was some sting in their tail, when they continued from their overnight total of 268 for seven.

Twice Sri Lanka's fielders let them down, when they grassed chances from Taylor and Denesh Ramdin before West Indies gained the lead, and they also had a few close lbw shouts turned down by the umpires.

But Vaas made the breakthrough, when Taylor was adjudged lbw for 13, and Muttiah Muralitharan quickly mopped up the tail removing Ramdin for 13 and Powell for three in the space of 10 balls to complete his 63rd haul of five wickets or more in a Test.

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

If they win the Test, Sri Lanka will clinch their first Test series win on Caribbean soil.

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