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Bad weather hampers Windies again
PALLEKELE – Heavy rain again swept across this central Sri Lankan town to offer West Indies refuge, after the hosts’ spinners grabbed two valuable wickets to once more swing the balance of power in the third and final Test yesterday. Careless batting from Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo gifted wickets to Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath, as West Indies stumbled to 244 for five in their first innings, before a combination of rain and bad light cut short the second day, with a minimum of 57 overs remaining. The weather seemed to mirror West Indies’ position on another rain-spoilt day, as sunny weather smiled on them, when they arrived at the Pallekele International Stadium, and there was a prompt start. The two sides contested 32 overs in the morning period, but only nine overs were possible before bad light and rain enveloped the ground about 35 minutes after the scheduled lunch interval, and the players retreated to the comfort of the dressing rooms.
This led to an early tea break, but the weather never relented, and it wiped-out the entire final period. Seasonal monsoon weather has dogged the series, which is still level at 0-0, following two rain-hit draws at the Galle International Stadium, and the Premadasa Stadium. Out of the statutory minimum of 450 overs-a-Test, only 340 overs were possible in the first Test, and 212.5 overs were achieved in the second. After Darren Bravo, Dwayne’s younger brother, was dismissed in the first hour for the top score so far of 68, Brendan Nash made an unbeaten 63, and Chanderpaul gathered 54 to consolidate West Indies’ position in a stand of 99 for the fourth wicket. But their hard work became unstuck, when Mendis and Herath struck in the space of nine balls, and in the twinkling of an eye, West Indies sunk from the comfort of 241 for three to 242 for five before the weather prevented the Sri Lankan spinners from doing further damage.
Chanderpaul reached his 50 from 131 balls, when he bottom-edged a sweep at a delivery from Herath to the deep fine leg boundary for his third four. The obdurate left-hander lasted just 14 balls more before he tried to steer a delivery from Mendis past Mahela Jayawardene at slip, and was smartly caught left-handed, low down by the former Sri Lanka captain. The elder Bravo has looked distracted in this series, and has been a shadow of himself with the bat and the ball. He never looked settled in his brief stay, and Herath put him out of his misery after seven balls, when he lured him down the pitch, sharply spun a delivery past his ill-advised flick, and had him stumped for a duck. Mendis has been the most successful Sri Lanka bowler with two wickets for 51 runs from 18 overs, while Herath, Dilhara Fernando, and Suranga Lakmal have collected one wicket apiece.
West Indies had earlier resumed from their overnight total of 134 for two, and looked set to carry-on merrily. The younger Bravo again looked in imperious touch, with another hair-raising, languid cover drive off Dilhara Fernando for the last of his 10 boundaries before the same bowler trapped him lbw playing across his 117th delivery. Nash joined Chanderpaul, and raced to a half-century before lunch to lead West Indies to 229 for three at lunch. The West Indies vice-captain reached his 50 from 74 balls, when he steered a delivery from Herath to third man for a deuce in the fourth-last over before lunch. Playing in his 18th Test, Nash passed 1,000 career runs when he reached 20, with a whip through mid-wicket off Lakmal for a trey, but he was fortunate to have survived a run-out chance on 31.
He clipped a delivery from Mendis through square leg, and ran two, but he and Chanderpaul considered a third run, and were stranded close to the striker’s end. Nash was fortunate that Fernando’s throw from the deep was wild, and that Tillakaratne Dilshan failed to gather the ball at cover, allowing the two batsmen to cross for the extra run. Chanderpaul too, had his slice of fortune, when he successfully appealed umpire Bruce Oxenford’s verdict of lbw to Herath on 38, after essaying a reckless reverse sweep. In the penultimate over before the end of the morning period, Nash also survived a loud appeal for a bat-pad catch off Herath – and continued the grind until the weather brought an early close.
Sri Lanka vs West Indies
West Indies 1st Inns (o/n 134-2)
Chris Gayle lbw b Lakmal 0
Devon Smith lbw b Mendis 55
Darren Bravo lbw b Fernando 68
S Chanderpaul c Jayawardene b Mendis 54
Brendan Nash not out 62
DBravo st. Jayawardene b Herath 0
Carlton Baugh not out 0
Extras: (2lb, 2nb, 1w ) 5
TOTAL: (for five wickets) 244
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-115, 3-142, 4-241, 5-242.
Bowling: Lakmal 16-5-35-1, Mathews 10-4-34-0, Dilshan 10-1-20-0, Fernando 15-2-72-1 (1w), Mendis 18-3-51-2 (2nb), Herath 12-2-30-1.
Umpires: Asad Rauf, Pakistan, and Bruce Oxenford, Australia.