Sri Lanka's run-hungry batsmen exposed the severe limitations of the West Indies' bowling on an unforgiving pitch on the third day of the first Test yesterday. The left-handed wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, a 24-year-old law student, led the way to a daunting 343 for 3, converting his overnight 27 to an unbeaten 126, his second Test hundred.
It placed Sri Lanka a mere 105 in arrears with the off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan waiting to continue his first-innings torment that brought him six wickets. It came as a huge relief for the West Indies when fading light and rain brought a premature end to play with 23 overs still available on a day on which their inexperienced bowlers managed to claim only one wicket.
The potential for the West Indies to fall into trouble was unthinkable when they were basking in the security of 409 for 4 at lunch on the second day before losing their last six wickets for 25 to be all out for 448. Their position would have been even more daunting had the dashing Mahela Jayawardene not been run out by Marlon Samuels' slick piece of fielding one short of his third consecutive Test hundred, and fourth in five innings.
He was in the process of joyfully devouring the offerings being served up in a third-wicket partnership of 162 with Sangakkara and, with 13 fours from 134 balls, was licking his chops for more. Sri Lanka's previous two Test totals, both in September, were 610 for 6 declared against India and 555 for 5 declared against Bangladesh.
Merv Dillon persevered stoically but the only wicket to fall to a bowler went to the leg-spinner Dinanath Ramnarine, who had the opener Marvan Atapattu taken low down at slip by Brian Lara for 61.
Third day; West Indies won toss
WEST INDIES First Innings 448 (B C Lara 178, R R Sarwan 88, C L Hooper 69; M Muralitharan 6-126, W P U J C Vaas 4-95).
SRI LANKA First Innings
(Overnight: 103 for 1)
M S Atapattu c Lara b Ramnarine 61
ÝK Sangakkara not out 126
D P M Jayawardene run out 99
R P Arnold not out 18
Extras (lb8 w2 nb4 pens 0) 14
Total (for 3, 110 overs) 343
Fall: 1-37 2-146 3-308
To bat: H P Tillakaratne, T T Samaraweera, W P U J C Vaas, T C B Fernando, M R C N Bandaratilleke, M Muralitharan.
Bowling: Dillon 30-7-83-1; Stuart 20-2-91-0; McGarrell 16-2-47-0; Ramnarine 29-7-75-1; Hooper 14-2-34-0; Samuels 1-0-5-0.
Umpires: J H Hampshire and P T Manuel.Reuse content