Chanderpaul steadies ship

West Indies 271- 6 Sri Lanka
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The Independent Online

The pair came together on 192 for 6 but negotiated the troublesome spin bowling of the returning home hero Muttiah Muralitharan to lift the spirit of the visitors, who at one point were rocking on 113 for 5.

The tourists were depleted of almost an entire first-choice line-up due to the ongoing contractual dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board. With Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle ruled out, an inexperienced batting contingent had to face the Sri Lankan bowling attack, buoyed by the return of Murali after an 11-month absence from Test cricket.

Xavier Marshall, Denesh Ramdin and Runako Morton were all handed Test debuts by the tourists, while the Sri Lankans, playing their first match at home since the tsunami, included the all-rounder Gayan Wijekoon for the first time.

Having opted to bat after winning the toss, Chanderpaul would have been questioning his decision after the openers Marshall (10) and Sylvester Joseph (28) were trapped lbw by Chaminda Vaas and Wijekoon respectively. Morton looked confident but fell victim to Murali as West Indies slipped to 95 for 3.

Things got worse for the tourists after lunch, as the impressive 21-year-old pacer Lasith Malinga removed Narsingh Deonarine (11) and Dwayne Smith (four) in the same over.

It was left to Chanderpaul and Ramdin to pick up the pieces. Ramdin fell for 56 as Wijekoon picked up his second victim but Chanderpaul and Banks moved the score to 271 without further loss.