West Indies' position of power weakened by Vaas class

West Indies 285 & 17-3 Sri Lanka 227
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The Independent Online

Shorn of 10 of their leading players - Brian Lara being the most prominent - who withdrew from the squad over their sponsorship dispute with their Board, this hastily reconstructed side entered the match with 134 Tests among their XI, while Sri Lanka had amassed 528.

They were 16-1 to win the Test, but their batting was positive as they posted 285 and their bowling reduced Sri Lanka's powerful line-up to 113 for 7 by mid-afternoon in spite of a blameless pitch. It was then that frustrating resistance from the Sri Lankan lower order caused the optimistic illusion to fade. And by close, called prematurely because of the evening gloom, it had all but disappeared.

With Chaminda Vaas, in his 85th Test, to the fore with 49, Sri Lanka's last three wickets doubled the total to 227, a deficit of 58.

Then Vaas, with his late inswing, and Muttiah Muralitharan, the rubber-jointed off-spinner, reduced the West Indies to 17 for 3 before the gloom set in.

It was quite a day for Vaas. Readjusting to the switch from Worcestershire, where he spent the first part of the season, he was below his best on day one. But he got his rhythm back with the second new ball yesterday and he and Lasith Malinga, with the round-arm action, shared four wickets as the West Indies added only 14 to their overnight 271 for 6.

It seemed normal service had been resumed but the dismissals of the openers, Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, with seven on the board enlivened the West Indies. By lunch, Sri Lanka were 47 for 4 and they lost three more wickets for 66 after the break as the fast bowlers Daren Powell and Jermaine Lawson and the off-spinner Omari Banks were supported by sharp catching.

But, as the ball softened, Vaas shared stands of 36 with Nayan Herath and 66 with Muralitharan who hit a typically unorthodox 36.