Sarwan and Chanderpaul edge Windies closer to win

Published: Monday, April 7, 2008, 2:04 [IST]
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Ramnaresh Sarwan inched closer to his 10th Test hundred and Shivnarine Chanderpaul completed a half-century to put West Indies within sight of victory in the second and final Test at Queen's Park Oval here on Sunday.

When rain prompted an earlier than scheduled tea, West Indies, chasing 253 for a series-levelling victory, had reached 194 for three in their second innings with Sarwan not out on 95 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul not out on 50.

Sri Lanka started the day knowing that history was on their side, since West Indies have been successful in only one of their last five run chases at this venue, and this was a decade ago, when they pursued 282 to beat England.

But the Sri Lankans were powerless as Sarwan and Chanderpaul crafted a stand of 121 for the fourth wicket before the inclement weather offered the visitors respite.

Sri Lanka's off-spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan bowled 19 wicketless overs for 68 runs, while left-arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas snared two early wickets for 37 runs from 14.2 overs to create early pressure.

But Sarwan thrived and guided Murali's famed doosra through backward point for a single to reach his 50.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene could not find an appropriate combination to put a lid on the West Indies scoring, once Vaas was removed from the attack and Muralitharan wheeled away at one end.

That allowed Chanderpaul the freedom to come through a shaky early period to reach his 50 when he guided Thilan Thushara to wide third man for a single.

But Sri Lanka had captured three wickets - two to Vaas - to hold the early advantage before rain prompted an early lunch with the home team on 93 for three.

The hardworking Thushara produced the breakthrough when West Indies captain Chris Gayle recklessly slashed at a delivery of no great merit and was caught at backward point for 10.

Next over, Vaas struck, when he had Chattergoon - who was dropped on one - lbw for 11 playing forward and across a well-pitched delivery moving back from outside the off-stump to leave West Indies 24 for two.

But Sri Lanka's progress was slowed, when the embattled Marlon Samuels joined Sarwan at the wicket and they settled the nerves of their team with a stand of 49 for the third wicket.

Sri Lanka came close to breaking the partnership before it had prospered, when Samuels played a ball from Vaas to cover, advanced a few steps, but left Sarwan stranded mid-pitch.

Fortunately for the West Indies vice-captain, Tillakeratne Dilshan's throw at the bowler's end missed, much to the fielder's chagrin.

With Muralitharan now in full flight, Jayawardene brought back Vaas for a second spell from the Queen's Park Cricket Club pavilion end, and he broke the partnership.

Vaas tempted Samuels with a juicy half-volley outside the off-stump and the batsman drove loosely and was caught low down at cover for 11.

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

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