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Mahela, Vaas secure Sri Lanka’s position

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West Indies are off to a bad start with the bat in their first innings having lost their Skipper Chris Gayle cheaply. The homeside is up against a tall score of 476 made by the Lankans on a pitch that should be to the liking of the destructive Muttiah Muralitharan.

Sri Lanka have never won a Test Match in the West Indies. But this might change as things have been falling in the right places for them since the toss. They got themselves to a healthy 269 for 4 on the first day and made that look a lot better on the second day with the Skipper leading from the front. Although there was some spark in the West Indian bowling every now and then, Mahela stood firm with all his experience to grind the situation in his team’s favour.

Mahela Jayawardene had lost a couple of his partners in the morning session. Lack of footwork caused the downfall of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Prasanna Jayawardene. Both fell for twenties and were done in by the swinging deliveries from Taylor and Powell respectively. When wicket keeper, Prasanna Jayawardene was dismissed by Powell, the scoreboard was still pretty at 331 for 6 with the Skipper’s presence. Mahela was then helped by the experienced Chaminda Vaas, who made most of the weak bowling attack to help himself to a half century. And with that Sri Lanka got to the comfort zone and Mahela eased past his 22nd Test hundred.

The Sri Lankan Captain had a bizarre dismissal which ended his innings finally. It was a silly decision from Umpire Billy Bowden. The New Zealander adjudged Mahela Jayawardene lbw after failing to connect a reverse sweep off Chris Gayle. TV replays made Billy look Silly as the ball had hit Mahela Jayawardene’s gloves before getting onto the pads! A shocking look on Mahela’s face was obvious but he didn’t complain as his team was in a strong position by then. Jayawardene made 136 (from 234 balls with 13 fours). His partnership with Vaas was an important one of 126 runs. Vaas remained unbeaten on a very slow 54 (from 142 balls with 4 fours) when the declaration came at 476 for 8 after 162 overs. Jerome Taylor finished with reasonable figures of 4 for 110 in 33 overs.

The West Indies lost one of their best batsmen in Chris Gayle very early. Gayle was trapped infront of the stumps by Chaminda Vaas, who swung the new ball both ways to look penetrative. Gayle was gone for a 11-ball duck in the 3rd over itself. Further damage in the day’s play was prevented by Devon Smith (8 from 36) and comeback man Ronnie Sarwan (21 from 49 with 2 fours). Windies will heavily rely on the Guyanese pair of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to get them out of trouble. They finished the second day’s play at 29 for 1 in 16 overs with Mahela checking as many as 5 bowlers in the short burst!