Steady Sangakkara retrieves control

Sri Lanka 150 and 146-2 West Indies 148
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The Independent Online

With the match transformed into a last-innings contest, Sri Lanka were building a solid position at 146 for two when heavy rain ended the day 30.1 overs prematurely. It should already be enough against a West Indies team stripped of their leading batsmen by a dispute between board and players over sponsorship, in which only the captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul, has a Test hundred to his name.

Yet they mounted a spirited fight, as they did on the first day and in the First Test before succumbing by six wickets to a side with 528 Tests between their 11 players.

On a pitch that lost some its pace of the first day, the openers, Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, put on 55, the best start by either team in the series, before they fell in successive overs to sharp close-to-the-wicket catching that has been a feature of the new-look West Indies team.

Atapattu, who made 19, cut a short ball from Daren Powell hard to the right of gully, where Omari Banks made the chance look straightforward. Six balls later, Jermaine Lawson got his own back for three successive boundaries by Jayasuriya, ending the left-hander's highest score in four innings, 36, to an edged defensive stroke that found the safe grasp of Runako Morton at second slip.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene gradually settled Sri Lanka's nerves against disciplined, direct fast bowling, especially from Best in two spells either side of tea. Generating consistent pace of around 90mph with hardly a loose delivery, Best troubled Jayawardene especially, but couldn't make the breakthrough.

Best and Powell were less threatening against the left-handed Sangakkara, and he and Jayawardene gradually took control, increasing their partnership to 89 when the weather intervened with Sangakkara on 46 and Jayawardene 38.

At the start of the day, the left-arm, medium-paced swing bowler Chaminda Vaas added two wickets to the four he claimed on the first day to finish with 6 for 22. The top scorer, Narsingh Deonarine, the 21-year-old left-hander, added only four to his overnight 36 and it was left to Best, playing a succession of flamboyant drives off Mura-litharan, Test cricket's second- highest wicket-taker, to carry the West Indies.

Meanwhile, back in the Caribbean, the futile war of words between the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players Association continued. There seemed no end in prospect to the dispute that led to the withdrawal of 10 of the originally chosen players for the tour, among them Brian Lara.