Cricket: Hooper sinks Sri Lankans

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As they have been obliged to do with increasing frequency by their inconsistent batsmen, the West Indies' bowlers pulled their side out of the difficult situation they faced at the start of the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka here yesterday.

After they had surrendered meekly to the spirited but hardly devastating Sri Lankan attack on Friday for 147, the West Indies knew their bowlers had to be at their disciplined best to contain the deficit to manageable proportions. Sri Lanka, at 157 for three, were already 10 runs to the good, the opener Sanath Jayasuriya was entrenched with 80, Curtly Ambrose was hindered by a dodgy back and the pitch offered plenty of runs.

As it turned out, the Sri Lankans capitulated with the same lack of enterprise their opponents had shown and were dismissed for 222. That gave them a lead of 75 - only modest in the circumstances.

The unlikely source of the West Indian recovery was the off-spinner Carl Hooper, who added four wickets to the one he already had to finish with a career best 5 for 26. The initial shackles, though, had been imposed early in the day by splendid fast bowling from Courtney Walsh and Franklyn Rose, who maintained a nagging off-stump line and the required length to deny the adventurous Sri Lankan batsmen the freedom to play their strokes.

The Sri Lankans were also handicapped by rain that three times swept across the picturesque Arnos Vale ground, on the edge of the Caribbean, that is hosting its inaugural Test. They were held up for almost an hour before lunch, then for an hour and a half between lunch and tea. None of their batsmen could get going.

A lot depended on the continuing left-handed partnership between Jayasuriya and the captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, but Ranatunga succumbed to the combination of Rose and Walsh, who tested him with a succession of sharply lifting deliveries on the body before Walsh predictably found his outside edge from a flat footed drive for a catch to first slip.

Sri Lanka were 185 for 4 at lunch after which their decline was rapid and dramatic, their last six wickets going down between the showers for 37. Jayasuriya had added only ten to his overnight 80 from 41 balls when he chose to show his pad to Hooper's drifter and was ruled lbw. It was the second time in successive Tests that Jayasuriya had been denied a century by Hooper, who had bowled him for 85 in the first innings in Antigua.

Before the second break for rain, Ambrose had a short spell which was sufficient to account for Romesh Kaluwitharana to a keeper's catch off the glove. When play got going again in sunshine after tea, Hooper and Walsh quickly wrapped up the innings, the off-spinner claiming three of the last four wickets that went down for the addition of just 11 runs.