West Indies celebrate Test victory over Sri Lanka

Ramnaresh Sarwan stroked a fluent 102 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul added an unbeaten 86 to pilot the West Indies to a series-levelling six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test on Sunday.

Vice-captain Sarwan and Chanderpaul added a record 157 for the fourth wicket to spur the home team to the victory target of 254 for four on the fourth day at Queen’s Park Oval.

The West Indies scored 294 in their first innings, and Sri Lanka 278 and 268.

”It was very deserving,” West Indies captain Chris Gayle said. ”It was a shaky start, but in the end we came out on top and I have to give credit to the guys for the way they played.”

When the West Indies slipped to 73-3, the match was hanging in the balance, Gayle admitted. ”I was bit nervous but I know what the guys are capable of and I have the belief in them, so I wasn’t too worried at that particular time,” he said.

Sri Lanka had early success through seamers Chaminda Vaas (two for 52) and Thilan Thushara (one for 49), but Muttiah Muralitharan failed to fire and endured figures of one for 92.

Sarwan’s 10th Test century was decorated with 15 boundaries and spanned 172 deliveries and four and a quarter hours. Chanderpaul, in his 109th Test, was a perfect foil in striking seven fours off 146 balls in three-and-a-half hours.

Sarwan was named man of the match — he made 57 in the first innings — and man of the series for 311 runs at an average of 77.75. ”We really needed a partnership with myself and Shiv,” Sarwan said. ”Obviously we were under a bit of pressure, so it was important that we put a partnership together.”

Sarwan, playing his first Test series since last summer in England due to a catalogue of injuries, admitted it had been tough during that period. ”It’s been a hard road back,” he said. ”I’ve been out for 10 months and I’ve been working very hard at my game.

”What has been working for me is the fact that I have been very positive up front and been able to pick the right balls to hit. I think that is the key to the way I’ve been batting. I just have to continue to play that way.”

Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene praised Sarwan and Chanderpaul.

”We gave ourselves a chance but I thought Ronnie and Shiv batted really well,” he said. ”At 73 for three, we thought with a couple more wickets we could have had it, but those two guys batted really well. We had a few half chances but couldn’t capitalise. I thought, all in all West Indies played really good cricket in this Test match and deserved to win.”

Sri Lanka had an encouraging start when West Indies openers Gayle and Sewnarine Chattergoon fell in successive overs at 24-2.

Thushara made the initial strike when Gayle slashed a back-foot drive on 10 and Tillakaratne Dilshan pouched a fine catch over his shoulder running back at backward point. Chattergoon perished one run later for 11 when Vaas angled one in and gained a clear lbw verdict.

Sarwan, with three half-centuries already in the series, was in commanding form but Sri Lanka missed a run-out opportunity against the West Indies vice-captain when he was on 14.

Marlon Samuels was late to send back his partner, but Sarwan survived as Dilshan’s throw at the bowler’s end stumps missed with the Guyanese batsman stranded.

Sarwan and Samuels added 49 for the third wicket before Vaas returned for a second spell and was rewarded in his second over. Samuels, on 11, drove a slower ball to cover where Malinda Warnapura grabbed a good low catch diving forward.

Sarwan and Chanderpaul took the team to lunch at 93-3 and grew in confidence in the second session to dull the visitors’ varied attack.

Sarwan passed his 50 off 76 deliveries just after the break while Chanderpaul’s landmark arrived just before taking his side to tea at 194-3.

Both batsmen offered the Sri Lankans little scope for optimism and Sarwan brought up his first century against Sri Lanka with a cracking sweep off Muralitharan for his 15th boundary.

Soon afterwards, Dilshan missed another run-out chance to remove Chanderpaul on 54 at 205-3.

Sarwan eventually fell to Muralitharan when he gave a bat-pad catch to silly point. By then, it was too late for the Sri Lankans and Devon Smith cracked three fours including the winning boundary in his unbeaten 18.

Chanderpaul stayed until the end, moving into fourth on the all-time West Indies run-scorers’ list with 7 559, surpassing Desmond Haynes (7 487), Clive Lloyd (7 515) and Gordon Greenidge (7 558).

Sri Lanka won the first Test by 121 runs in Guyana for their first victory in the Caribbean. The teams play a three-match one-day international series starting on Thursday at Port-of-Spain. — Sapa-AP

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