Sarwan And Chanderpaul Bring It Home For West Indies
Sri Lanka 268 (Silva 76) & 278 (Samaraweera 125, Taylor 4-52) v
294 (Sarwan 57, Muralitharan 5-79) & 254-4 (Sarwan 102)
West Indies won by six wickets and level the series 1-1
By John Pennington
Ramnaresh Sarwan hit a century and Shivnarine Chanderpaul an unbeaten half-century as West Indies levelled the series with a six-wicket victory on day four of the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Trinidad.
Sarwan and Chanderpaul added 157 for the fourth wicket, their efforts helping to steady the innings after their run chase of 253 to win had been rocked by three quick wickets early on before going on to leave their side in an unassailable position.
Sarwan was finally dismissed for 102 while Chanderpaul remained unbeaten on 86 with West Indies closing on 254 for four.
Earlier, Chris Gayle made his customary rocket start before he was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan off of Thushara for ten and the West Indies were soon in further trouble when Sewnarine Chattergoon (11) was trapped in front by Chaminda Vaas.
Marlon Samuels departed for the same score, caught by Warnapura off of the same bowler to leave the West Indies struggling on 73 for three before the two Guyanese players came together. Sarwan completed his fourth half-century in as many innings since his return from injury, going on to convert it into a three-figure score.
The century partnership came up shortly before tea and was soon followed by Chanderpaul completing a typically patient half-century, his knock including only two boundaries as he and Sarwan inched their side closer to their target.
After tea, taken early due to some rain, Sarwan reached his tenth Test hundred, his first century since June 2006 in the home series against India, by sweeping Muttiah Muralitharan for four to fine leg.
He was dismissed when he tried to flick Muralitharan to leg and only succeeded in offering Dilshan a simple catch at silly mid-off. Next man in Devon Smith was in no mood to hang around, hitting two of his first three balls for boundaries to help bring a swift end to proceedings.
The winning runs were also scored by Smith, who smashed Muralitharan to the cover boundary for the third time in his innings to end unbeaten on 14.
The West Indies were chasing 253 to win after impressively bowling out the Sri Lankans for 268 and 278 with Fidel Edwards taking four for 84 in the first innings and Jerome Taylor four for 52 in the second. Sarwan's first innings effort helped them score 294, securing a lead of 16.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene laid the blame for their defeat firmly at the door of their below par batting performance.
"After the first two days, we knew it was going to be a tough battle, it was pretty even. Then we lost four wickets pretty early in the second innings and that was probably where we went wrong," he said.
"Our openers got out early, we lost wickets to a couple of bad shots and we put ourselves under pressure but then Thilan (Samaraweera) and Chaminda (Vaas) batted really well and put us in a position where we could win the Test match.
"It gave us an opportunity but we let ourselves down in that first 10-15 overs - we knew on this wicket the harder ball is going to do a bit, we needed to make sure we didn't lose to many up front and then build a platform for our bowlers," he said.
A delighted Sarwan, meanwhile, who has cast aside his loss of the captaincy of the side to Chris Gayle to turn in a fine run of scores with the bat, was pleased with the way he had performed, especially in scoring a crucial hundred.
"I've been getting off to good starts in this series, I wanted to do the same, pick the bad balls and fortunately I was able to do that and go on and get the hundred," he said.
"After we lost Marlon (Samuels) I knew I had to form a good partnership with Shiv. The good thing was that Shiv was flowing and I didn't have to do all the scoring, he was positive and that paid off for us," he added.
Gayle paid tribute to Sarwan, who has not been a regular pick for nearly a year after a series of injuries.
"Missing Sarwan really hurt us and it is good to have him back out there. He showed how important he is at number three," he said.
"It is good to have him back, he looked the part and I have to give him credit. I hope he can build on this and capitalise on his good starts and get those hundreds - big hundreds."
Sri Lanka won the opening Test in Guyana by 121 runs and attention now turns to a three-match One Day International series before the visit of Australia for Tests, ODIs and a Twenty20 International next month.
ï¿½ Cricket World 2008