Muralitharan leads Sri Lanka fightback

Sri Lanka clawed their way back into the second Test on Friday, snapping up six West Indies wickets in the final session to leave the match finely balanced.

The home team were 268-7 at the close on the second day, having gone into tea on 133-1 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 278 all out.

Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan did most of the damage, removing Ramnaresh Sarwan (57), Marlon Samuels (3) and Devon Smith (47).

There were some positives from the hosts’ batting with debutant opener Sewnarine Chattergoon scoring 46 before he was bowled by Chaminda Vaas and captain Chris Gayle produced a hard-hitting 45 that dealt with some of the concerns about his ability to deal with Vaas’s left-arm swing.

Smith, an opener who was dropped down to number six, looked confident in his knock but fell to a doosra from Muralitharan just five balls before play was ended due to bad light.

“When you have a guy who is on 47 and it is just before stumps it is really ideal to get him out rather than trying to bowl him in the morning,” Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene said.

“That was a crucial wicket for us. Now we have to make sure we don’t give them easy runs, get them out as quickly as possible,” he said.

Sri Lanka began the day on 217-5 but lost their last five wickets for just 61 runs.

The West Indies got a quick breakthrough when Tillakaratne Dilshan, who led Sri Lanka’s fightback in a century partnership with Silva in Thursday’s final session, top-edged Fidel Edwards trying a pull shot and keeper Denesh Ramdin took the high catch.

Edwards finished with 4-84, deserved reward for his aggressive bowling on the first two days.

Chaminda Vaas and Muralitharan were dismissed cheaply and although Silva provided resistance making 76 before he was caught by Daren Powell off Dwayne Bravo, Jayawardene was disappointed that his side had not made more.

“We should have probably have been looking at 300 to 325,” he said, “But it is a very even game now—we fought back very well with the ball”.

Apart from Marlon Samuels, trapped lbw by Muralitharan for just three—all of the top order West Indies batsmen got settled but were unable to make the kind of innings-defining knock that wins games.

Sarwan in particular impressed with his half-century, coming off 75 balls, the Guyanese batsman enjoying a 79-run partnership with compatriot and close friend Chattergoon.

But as so often, Muralitharan took away the momentum from the home side.

“It is even game I reckon. It’s going to be like a one-innings match now and with them batting last on that wicket we have to make sure that we put some runs on the board and put some pressure on them,” said Jayawardene.

Sri Lanka lead the two-Test series 1-0.—Reuters


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