Weather holds the key to SL-Windies Test


PALLEKELE: Sri Lanka and the West Indies hope for clear weather as they seek to clinch the series with a win in the third and final Test starting at a new venue on Wednesday.
The series is tied at 0-0 after rain-hit drawn matches in Colombo and Galle and the weather is likely to curtail play at the Pallekele International Stadium.
The West Indies, seeking their first Test victory in Sri Lanka, surprised the hosts with their impressive performance in Galle where they enforced the follow-on, restricting the home side to 378 after posting 580-9 declared.
Sri Lanka came back strongly in the second Test in Colombo when they made 387-9 declared in their first innings on a new pitch before bowling the tourists out for 243.
The hosts declared their second innings at 57-1 before taking two West Indies wickets, including that of former captain Chris Gayle, for 12 runs in the final session.
Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who led from the front with a superb 150 in the first innings, expects his bowlers to repeat their performance in a bid to keep pressure on the tourists in the final Test.
The hosts were indebted to their spinners for gaining the upper hand, with Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis and part-timer Tillakaratne Dilshan giving a good account of themselves with three wickets apiece.
Debutant paceman Suranga Lakmal and fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara also backed their spinners.
“If the match had gone the full distance, it would have been great to see our spinners performing,” Sangakkara said after the Colombo Test.
“We applied ourselves in batting and our bowling performance was a lot better than the first Test.” The West Indies, who arrived in the country with new captain Darren Sammy and an inexperienced bowling attack, will need to be consistent with their batting and bowling.
The tourists batted well in the opening match, with Gayle showing the way with a brilliant 333, but faltered against Sri Lanka’s disciplined pace-spin combination in the next game.
Darren Bravo, 21, impressed in both the Tests with his exciting stroke-play, scoring 58 on debut in Galle and an attractive 80 in Colombo. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to (in the second match), but the series is still 0-0, so we have everything to play for in the final Test. We need to keep improving,” said Sammy.
“Darren Bravo, Kemar Roach and Carlton Baugh all played well (in the second match). It’s been a long time we are going into the final Test of a series 0-0 and the players are looking forward to it.”