Vaas makes most of truncated day
Sri Lanka enjoyed the best of a day truncated by rain and bad light thanks to some fine swing bowling from Chaminda Vaas. After the whole of the morning session was lost because of heavy overnight rain, Vaas produced a fine spell of controlled swing bowling to leave West Indies in complete disarray. West Indies' inexperienced batsmen had no answer to the accuracy and guile of Vaas, and quickly slumped to 21 for 5, before recovering marginally to end the day on 59 for 6. Only 25.3 overs were possible on a day when 42 runs were scored and three wickets lost.
Overcast conditions and a light breeze blowing across the Sinhalese Sports Club set the stage for Vaas, the expert marksman, to do his thing. Narsingh Deonarine was the first to be trapped - he was perfectly set up by two deliveries just wide of the stumps that left him - padding up to a straight one that would have crashed into the off stump (21 for 4).
Dwayne Smith, who only lasted two balls in the first innings, managed to last a touch more than an over in the second dig. Once again Vaas seemed to have Smith's number as he walked out to bat and a peach of a delivery - curling in, pitching on the stumps and straightening - left the batsman dead in the water (21 for 5).
Vaas's controlled aggression was well backed up by Muttiah Muralitharan who, though not at his best, kept things tight at his end. West Indies' batsmen had no answer to either bowler. The runs completely dried up - a mere 16 runs were added in 18.4 overs - and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's dour defence kept the team afloat. After a little less than 90 minutes of play West Indies caught a lucky break when bad light brought a halt to proceedings.
The respite, however, proved to be temporary. Denesh Ramdin, who batted so well in the first innings, was in the process of stringing together a meaningful partnership with Chanderpaul when he played back to a sharply turning offbreak from Muralitharan and was struck on the pad. He was playing a stroke, and the ball hit just outside the line, so could consider himself unlucky to be given out lbw for 11. By this stage Chanderpaul (29 not out) had realised the futility of simply hanging around, and pushed for quick runs, even launching Sanath Jayasuriya for a straight six. But it might be a case of too little too late, as West Indies' second innings 59 for 6 has only pushed the overall lead to 117. With two days still to go, it will take a lot of rain to take them to safety.
Narsingh Deonarine lbw b Vaas 7 (21 for 4)
Padded up to a straight one heading for middle-and-off.
Dwayne Smith lbw b Vaas 0 (21 for 5)
Fell across and was trapped plumb in front by an indipper.
Denesh Ramdin lbw b Muralitharan 11 (48 for 6)
Unlucky lbw decision - struck outside the line playing a shot off the back foot.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo