Port of Spain: Thilan Samaraweera hit his sixth Test hundred and shared a century seventh-wicket stand with Chaminda Vaas to lead a Sri Lanka recovery in the second and final Test against West Indies here on Saturday.
Samaraweera hit the top score of 125, as Sri Lanka, trailing by 16 runs on first innings, were dismissed for 268 in their second innings just before the scheduled close on the third day at Queen's Park Oval to leave West Indies two whole days to chase 253 for victory.
Samaraweera reached his ton when he sliced Fidel Edwards to the third man boundary for the 15th of his 18 boundaries that came from 199 balls in close to five hours.
But Samaraweera was fortunate that umpire Billy Bowden ruled a palpable lbw verdict not out, when Dwyane Bravo deceived him with a well-pitched delivery that moved back from outside the off-stump and struck him plumb in front.
When Samaraweera arrived at the crease, Sri Lanka were in deep trouble on 32 for three, and they soon crashed to 99 for six, with West Indies contemplating a victory inside three days.
But Vaas joined Samaraweera, and they spent just over three hours repairing the damage with a stand of 138.
Vaas scored a valuable 45 before he essayed a loose slash at a delivery of no great merit outside the off-stump from West Indies captain Chris Gayle, plying his uncomplicated off-spin, and was caught behind.
Then Samaraweera was run out going for a second run, when he failed to beat Marlon Samuels' throw from third man to the 'keeper in the closing minutes of another day extended to compensate for time lost to inclement weather on the opening day.
Jerome Taylor brought the Sri Lanka innings to a close, when he had Muttiah Muralithran caught at long leg for four to end as West Indies' most successful bowler with four wickets for 52 runs from 15.1 overs.
Before lunch, Sri Lanka suffered a batting meltdown and handed West Indies the advantage until Samaraweera and Vaas snatch it back again.
The visitors had dismissed West Indies for 294 in their first innings 50 minutes after the start with off-spin legend 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.
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.
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 entered and 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 to complete a superb morning period for West Indies.
After lunch, Sri Lanka's progress was slowed, after they continued from their interval total of 78 for five.
Chamara Silva had batted for close to 45 minutes after the interval to frustrate West Indies before 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 and busily carried their side through until tea on 151 for six.
Samaraweera reached his 50 when he drove his 99th delivery from Bravo through square cover for a single, and he soon had the slice of fortune which swung the match decisively Sri Lanka's way.
Sri Lanka lead the series 1-0, after they won the opening Test at Guyana by 121 runs.
If they win this Test, they will clinch their first series win on Caribbean soil.