Third Test

Sri Lanka v West Indies

At Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, November 29, 30, December 1, 2, 3. Sri Lanka won by ten wickets. Toss: West Indies.

Sri Lanka completed a clean sweep of the Tests - the fifth whitewash of West Indies in five years in a series of two or more matches. But it was also a game of two giant performances. Vaas took seven wickets in both innings, twice improving his career-best analysis, as he swung the new ball and the old, both in and out; only Muralitharan, with 16 against England at The Oval in 1998, had claimed more in a Test for Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, Lara completed a phenomenal series with scores of 221 and 130. Only five other batsmen had combined a double (or triple) and a single hundred in the same Test and none had been on the losing side.

The match followed a similar course to the First Test. On a pitch of even pace and bounce, West Indies were 327 for three after the first day, only to fold yet again, losing seven wickets for 43, five to Vaas. In reply, Sri Lanka amassed their second-highest Test total. Despite Lara's second century, West Indies again capitulated after passing 200 with only three wickets down: this time, the last seven fell for 59.

Although Vaas removed the openers cheaply on the first morning, the bowlers made little headway for the rest of the day. Lara continued to find Sarwan an able ally, and their positive partnership of 194 was ended only by Jayawardene's direct hit from cover. That brought in Hooper, who added a further 136 with Lara. But, once he fell to Vaas and the second new ball, the innings came to a swift end. Lara, who had completed 7,000 Test runs when he reached 130, made his fourth Test double-hundred, but was bowled by Vaas off the inside edge. He had batted for 436 minutes, faced 354 balls, hit two sixes and 23 fours, and given a masterclass in handling Muralitharan.

The West Indians were on even terms on the third morning, when Jayawardene was fourth out at 204, but they were once more stopped in their tracks by Tillekeratne. Patience personified but stylish too, he added 141 with Arnold, who eventually provided Hooper with his 100th Test wicket - no one else had needed as many balls (12,073) or Tests (90) as him - followed by 165 with Samaraweera. By then, West Indies were without Ramnarine, who had retired with a strained hip muscle. It took Black's direct hit from mid-off to remove Samaraweera, but the bowlers kept Tillekeratne company long enough to see him to his first Test double-hundred, in his 63rd match; he was in for nine hours and two minutes and hit 23 of his 343 balls for four. A few minutes later, Jayasuriya declared, 237 ahead. It was the first time in nearly 23 years that West Indies had conceded 600 in a Test innings since 1978-79, when India made 644 for seven declared at Kanpur during the Packer schism.

Again, Vaas quickly despatched the openers - Gayle for his third successive duck - as a precursor to another century stand between Sarwan and Lara, their third of the series. Going into the last day, they had reduced the deficit to 92, with eight wickets standing. Most other teams would have got away with a draw, but West Indies were never far away from collapse, and another duly followed once Sarwan snicked Vaas to the keeper in the seventh over of the morning.

Lara remained long enough to see West Indies into the lead but, just before lunch, he failed to keep out Zoysa's in-swinging yorker. In all, Lara had batted over 11 and a half hours in the match and, as the wickets tumbled, he remained responsible for more than half the runs off the bat in both innings. Appropriately, Vaas finished off the innings with four wickets in nine balls, leaving Atapattu and Jayasuriya to apply the icing before tea.

Men of the Match: B. C. Lara and W. P. U. J. C. Vaas.
Man of the Series: B. C. Lara.
Close of play: First day, West Indies 327-3 (Lara 178, Hooper 52); Second day, Sri Lanka 193-3 (Jayawardene 32, Arnold 10); Third day, Sri Lanka 477-5 (Tillekeratne 143, Samaraweera 68); Fourth day, West Indies 145-2 (Sarwan 57, Lara 76).

© John Wisden & Co