SIX of the nine defeats inflicted on the West Indies overseas during the past 10 years have been initiated by spin bowling. Sri Lanka - so lightly regarded that the West Indies have only now got around to playing their first Test against them - have a distinct chance of adding to that elite list over the next three days.
Having raised their overnight 66 for 3 to 190 all out on the second day, thanks largely to the efforts of Ruwan Kalpage and Pubudu Dissanayake, who added 51 for the seventh wicket, they reduced the West Indies to 99 for 4 by the close.
If Sri Lanka do manage a famous victory, credit would also go to the groundstaff, who have produced a pitch that forced the West Indies to play two spinners in a Test for the first time in four and a half years. Sri Lanka, ignoring pace entirely, have five bowlers who can make the most of the exaggerated turn offered.
The West Indies used their two spinners, Carl Hooper and Roger Harper, for 44 of their 98.2 overs but, in the end, it was still the fast men, Winston Benjamin and Curtly Ambrose, who did the damage.
The Sri Lankans made no pretence. Their captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, took the new ball himself for a couple of overs of club- standard trundlers before introducing spin. Desmond Haynes, lbw sweeping, and Phil Simmons, caught on the rebound off the pad, were out in successive overs after getting things underway with a stand of 42. Then the left-handers, Brian Lara and Keith Arthurton, both fell in the last half-hour leaving the captain Richie Richardson, 26 not out, with enormous responsibility.
SRI LANKA - First Innings
(Overnight: 66 for 3)
A M De Silva b Benjamin 53
*A Ranatunga c Lara b Walsh 31
S T Jayasuriya lbw b Benjamin 0
R S Kalpage c Richardson b Ambrose 39
P Dassanayake c Murray b Benjamin 18
G P Wickremasinghe c Lara b Ambrose 0
S D Anurasiri b Ambrose 1
M Muralidharan not out 1
Extras (b1 lb9 nb10) 20
Fall (cont): 4-106 5-106 6-130 7-181 8-182 9-188.
Bowling: Ambrose 12.2-5-14-3; Walsh 21-6-40-1 (nb2); Harper 24-12-36-1; Hooper 20-5-44-1 (nb3); Benjamin 20-8-46-4 (nb5); Arthurton 1-1-0-0.
WEST INDIES - First Innings
D L Haynes lbw b Anurasiri 20
P V Simmons c Dasanayake b Kalpage 17
R B Richardson not out 26
B C Lara c Dasanayake b Muralidharan 18
K L T Arthurton c Jayasuriya b Anurasiri 0
C L Hooper not out 9
Extras (nb9) 9
Total (for 4) 99
Fall: 1-42 2-42 3-78 4-84.
To bat: R A Harper, J R Murray, W K M Benjamin, C E L Ambrose, C A Walsh.
Bowling: Wickremasinghe 5-0-25-0 (3nb); Ranatunga 2-0-5-0; Anurasiri 18-4-35-2 (2nb); Kalpage 6-2-16-1 (1nb); Muralidharan 9-4-17-1 (3nb); Jayasuriya 1-0-1-0.
Greg Matthews, the 33-year-old former Test all-rounder from Australia, is 'very ill' in hospital in Perth after receiving a blow to the head in a non- cricket-related incident.Reuse content