Lara launches St Lucia with 209
Sri Lanka 354 and 126 for 0 (Jayasuriya 72*, Atapattu 50*) drew with West Indies 477 for 9 dec (Hinds 113, Lara 209, Banks 50*, Muralitharan 5-138)
A magnificent double-century by Brian Lara - his second in succession against Sri Lanka - was the highlight of the final day's play of St Lucia's inaugural Test. All the time lost to the rain - the whole of the fourth day and a large chunk of the third - meant that the match was always destined to finish in a draw.
West Indies reached 447 for 9, a lead of 93, before Lara declared. By then he had zoomed to 209, and Omari Banks had chipped in with a maiden Test fifty. Lara's innings spanned 360 balls, and included 24 fours and one huge six that sailed out of the Beausejour Stadium. Lara, who resumed on 93, battled hard in the morning against Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. And he had added only one when Romesh Kaluwitharana fumbled a stumping chance.
Lara soon swept to his century, his 21st in Tests, by cracking Vaas square for four. He then launched a violent assault either side of lunch, smashing 16 runs in an over off Kaushal Lokuarachchi and three consecutive boundaries off Prabath Nissanka.
But West Indies did not have it all their own way, as Murali claimed two swift wickets on his way to yet another five-wicket haul, his 38th in Tests. First Marlon Samuels, trying a sweep, actually was stumped by Kaluwitharana for 8 (279 for 5), then Ridley Jacobs was forced onto the back foot by a quicker delivery and trapped in front for 13 (305 for 6).
In came Banks, the hero of that epic final day against Australia in Antigua, when West Indies successfully chased a world-record 418 for victory. He survived an early let-off before scoring his first run, but then continued the composed start to his career with a fine fifty, which included five fours and a hooked six. The seventh-wicket stand was worth 136 when Lara finally nicked a catch behind off Nissanka, soon after reaching his fifth Test 200 with a lofted drive (441 for 7). Murali then snaffled a simple return catch off Corey Collymore, to finish with 5 for 138.
There was time for Sanath Jayasuriya, who had been out of form, to regain his touch. More restrained than usual, he still hit nine fours in reaching 72 before the captains agreed to call a halt, with Sri Lanka 126 for 0 in their second innings. Marvan Atapattu was also undefeated, with 50.
The second and final Test of this brief series starts in Jamaica on Friday. West Indies have brought one newcomer, Fidel Edwards of Barbados - Pedro Collins's half-brother - into their squad of 14 for the match. After their strong showing here, West Indies will start as slight favourites, especially if that man Lara can continue his run of form against Murali.