June 22, 2003

Century for Hinds before torrential rain

Wisden CricInfo staff
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Close West Indies 272 for 4 (Hinds 113, Lara 93*) trail Sri Lanka 354 by 82 runs

Torrential rains in St Lucia forced the early abandonment of the third day's play, halting West Indies' progress after they had been marching towards a first-innings lead. West Indies finished on the ascendancy at 272 for 4, just 82 runs in arrears.

The Sri Lankan bowlers, who had been flogged mercilessly during the helterskelter final session on the second day, restored some order on the third morning. However, they were only able to claim two wickets in the 39 overs completed. Ominously for Sri Lanka Brian Lara finished the day still unbeaten on 93.

During the first hour Wavell Hinds rode his luck, as Prabath Nissanka spilled a catch at mid-off when he had made 86. Hinds continued his remarkable run of form with a magnificent 113, his third century in six international innings.

Hinds added 174 for the third wicket with Lara, cracking eight fours and four sixes in his 143-ball innings before being run out. Looking to pinch a quick single as he pushed Chaminda Vaas through to mid-on, Hinds was sent back by Lara and left well short of his crease when Marvan Atapattu's throw winged in (240 for 3).

The incident drove Lara into his shell, and though a healthy 92 runs were scored in the session, West Indies managed just 14 runs in the last 11 overs, as the spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Kaushal Lokuarachchi stifled the run rate.

But Sri Lanka struck - rather fortuitously - soon after the break. Ramnaresh Sarwan chopped a delivery down onto Kumar Sangakkara's boot, and the ball then ricocheted towards Atapattu at short leg. Television replays, though, showed the ball had touched the ground before Sangakkara's boot (262 for 4).

That was the break Sri Lanka needed, but they still face a tough fight on the fourth day to bowl out West Indies, who, despite a poor first day, now hold the initiative in St Lucia's maiden Test match.