Nissanka fires but Test on knife-edge
Close Sri Lanka 129 for 5 (Jayawardene 32) and 208 lead West Indies 191 (Nissanka 5-64) by 146 runs
Prabath Nissanka led a Sri Lanka fightback with the ball on the second day of this decisive second Test, exploiting a juicy Sabina Park pitch to claim his first Test five-for, as West Indies were skittled out for 191. But West Indies' pace quartet then made deep inroads into Sri Lanka's top order to leave the match on a knife-edge at the close.
West Indies held a clear advantage on the first evening after dismissing Sri Lanka for a paltry 208, but Nissanka - playing in only his fourth Test - clawed the visitors back into the game with 5 for 64. Muttiah Muralitharan chipped in with the prize scalp of Brian Lara - his 50th wicket against West Indies, in his seventh Test.
The bowler's dominance continued though the final session. Corey Colleymore livened up the Kingston crowd with the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya (13), who was trapped lbw, and Kumar Sangakkara (12), the first innings top-scorer, who edged behind (43 for 2). When Marvan Atapattu (28), Sri Lanka's sheet anchor, flirted at a good-length delivery to give Jerome Taylor his first Test wicket, the Sri Lankans were back in trouble (80 for 3).
Mahela Jayawardene (32) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (23) shepherded Sri Lanka back into a more comfortable position during a 38 run stand for the fourth wicket. But two wickets in three balls just before the close meant it was West Indies that finished with their nose ahead. Jayawardene nicked a Fidel Edwards outswinger and Taylor flattened Kalauwitharana's stumps. Sri Lanka closed on 129 for 5 with a slender 146-run lead.
Earlier, West Indies had been given a good start by Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds. Gayle smacked 14 off Thilan Thushara's third over, and then Hinds smashed successive fours of Chaminda Vaas. It had all the hallmarks of being a bad day for Sri Lanka when Muralitharan dropped a skyer from Gayle at mid-on. But then Nissanka weighed in. Gayle tried to leave a ball but gloved it to Sangakkara at gully for 31 (54 for 1) and then Hinds's flashing drive got an edge through to Kaluwitharana, the wicketkeeper. Hinds made 19 (59 for 2).
Lara arrived to a hero's welcome after his double-hundred in St Lucia, but this time Muralitharan won their personal tussle, trapping the flummoxed Lara leg-before with his arm ball. Muralitharan's delight and the crowd's stunned silence testified to the importance of that wicket. Lara had made 10 and West Indies' decision to play the extra bowlers meant that their tail was almost exposed to the eager Muralitharan.
Much depended on Ramnaresh Sarwan, but he was bowled behind his legs by Vaas as he shuffled across his stumps for 31 (107 for 4). Thereafter, wickets tumbled. Nissanka removed Omari Banks and Marlon Samuels, both caught low at first slip by Hashan Tillakaratne, and Muralitharan bamboozled his way through the tail.
Collymore and Edwards added an idiosyncratic 16 runs for the last wicket as Tillakaratne mystifyingly left Nissanka kicking his heels at long leg. When Nissanka was eventually summoned it took him four balls to end the resistance. In a low-scoring match, the runs eked out by the West Indies tail could be decisive.