Island Cricket

Monday, April 7, 2008

Victorious Windies deny Sri Lanka Test sweep

AFP: PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (AFP) — Sri Lanka failed in their bid to win a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time when Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul led the West Indies to a six-wicket victory in the second and final Test on Sunday.

Sarwan hit 102, his 10th Test century, while Chanderpaul was unbeaten on 86, as West Indies, chasing 253, reached their target a little over an hour after tea, when Devon Smith hit a delivery from Muttiah Muralitharan through cover for four to a cacophony of noise from the 8,000 crowd at the Queen's Park Oval.

The result meant that the two-Test series ended 1-1 after Sri Lanka won the opening Test by 121 runs in Guyana.

West Indies avoided being swept in a home Test series of any length for the first time in their eight decades of Test involvement.

For three and a quarter hours, Sri Lanka toiled to dislodge either Sarwan or Chanderpaul, but they failed until West Indies were will within sight of victory with 23 runs left to get.

Prior to this innings, Sarwan had scores of 80, 72, and 57 in the series, and he was a relieved man when he hit Muralitharan to deep fine leg for the last of his 15 boundaries to reach his hundred.

Unfortunately, he was not able to carry West Indies all the way to victory, and Muralitharan finally broke through, when the home team vice-captain, moving down the pitch, inside-edged a delivery into his pad and was caught at second slip.

But there was no letting up at the other end as Chanderpaul, who had been a shadow of himself throughout the series with scores of 23, 3, and 18, suddenly blossomed.

He too, looked satisfied, after reaching 50, when he guided Thilan Thushara to wide third man for a single.

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

When the visitors captured three wickets - two to Chaminda Vaas - to hold the early advantage before rain prompted an early lunch with the home team on 93 for three, they would have been optimistic.

The hardworking Thilan 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 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 with a stand of 49 for the third wicket.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela 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 which the batsman drove loosely and was caught low down at cover for 11.

After lunch, Sri Lanka's bowlers failed to make a breakthrough as Sarwan and Chanderpaul knuckled down to carry West Indies to 194 for three when rain prompted an earlier than scheduled tea.

Jayawardene could not find an appropriate combination to put a lid on the West Indies scoring, and this allowed Chanderpaul the freedom to come through a shaky early period to reach his 50.

The two sides now contest a three-match ODI series.

The first two games are here on Thursday and Saturday. The series ends on April 15 with a day/night fixture in St. Lucia.


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