November 22, 2001

First no bowlers and now no play

West Indian hopes of leveling this three-match Test series were dealt another blow on Thursday when persistent rain washed out two full sessions at the Asgirya International Stadium in Kandy.

Yesterday, despite being handicapped on the opening day by an injury to key fast bowler Mervyn Dillon and the enforced withdrawal of fellow pace bowler Colin Stuart following two beamers, West Indies remained in the game thanks to a triple strike from leg-spinner Dinanth Ramnarine.

Today they were boosted by the return of Dillon who was able to bowl ten overs in the morning and helped make further inroads into the Sri Lankan batting with the second new ball.

Sri Lanka, 197 for five, added a further 53 runs before Carl Hooper decided to take the second new ball. Dillon and left-arm pace bowler Pedro Collins responded by grabbing three wickets for no runs in 4.6 overs to leave Sri Lanka precariously placed on 249 for eight.

Lower order batsmen Nuwan Zoysa and Niroshan Banadaratillake added 24 valuable runs before drizzle forced the players off the field for lunch. No further play was possible and Sri Lanka start again tomorrow on 273 for eight.

Earlier in the day Hashan Tillakaratne added 27 runs before he played onto his stumps as he tried to pull a short delivery through the leg-side. Out for 88, it was his first Test dismissal for 975 minutes; a wicketless run that yielded 433 runs and spanned four Test matches.

He was well supported by Thilan Samaraweera, who scored a solid 29, in a useful 80 run partnership for the seventh wicket.

Samaraweera, however, was caught behind off a peach of a leg cutter from Dillon shortly after the demise of Tillakaratene and, when Chaminda Vaas was taken at slip for a 21 minute duck, West Indies looked set to quickly wrap up the innings.

Kandy, though, has a reputation for important lower order stands and Zoysa and Bandaratillake played well enough before the rain to ensure that the West Indian bowlers don't take any liberties tomorrow.

They will also know that Sri Lanka's score is not far from par at venue that has produced first innings totals of 253, 297 and 274 in the last Tests.

Nonetheless, despite all the setbacks faced by the tourists, they have a fine opportunity to level the series and they will be hoping that the poor weather predicted over the coming days