Severely depleted by the absence of 10 of the originally chosen players, among them the leading batsmen Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, who are engaged in a dispute with their board over sponsorship, the West Indies surprised their public in the Caribbean, their Sri Lankan opponents and probably even themselves by gaining a first-innings lead of 58.
The grim consequences of sending 10 novices with 45 Tests between them into the match against a team with the cumulative experience of 528 Tests only began to materialise in the overcast gloom of the second evening and carried over to the 25.3 overs of the allocated 90 available yesterday under equally grey cloud cover.
The West Indies, 17 for 3 overnight, limped to 59 for 6 before the umpires Simon Taufel and Nadeem Ghouri called play an hour and 10 minutes before the scheduled close.
It put them 117 runs to the good and left the captain, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with only all-rounder Omari Banks and the three fast bowlers to try and present Sri Lanka with a challenging second-innings chase.
Chanderpaul led the struggle to be unbeaten on 29 off 91 deliveries when the fading light intervened for the second and final time. How many Sri Lanka are finally left to get will depend on how many he gets.
The West Indies' inexperience had been exposed by the late inswing of Chaminda Vaas and the teasing off-spin of Muttiah Muralitharan, who now share 619 Test wickets between them.Reuse content