Second Test Match

West Indies v Sri Lanka

Fazeer Mohammed


At Kingston, June 27, 28, 29, 2003. West Indies won by seven wickets. Toss: West Indies. Test debuts: F. H. Edwards; M. T. T. Mirando.

A Sabina Park pitch offering help to the bowlers - a rare sight since the farcical abandoned Test against England in 1997-98 - served as the stage for a spectacular Test debut by Fidel Edwards, and a confirmation of Collymore's quality. Together, they took 15 wickets as ball dominated bat, before a dramatic reversal on the third afternoon, when ultra-aggressive innings by Lara and Sarwan made West Indies' target of 212 - the highest total of the match - look easy.

The 21-year-old Edwards had been selected by Lara on the basis of a few net sessions, a move criticised by some as a reckless gamble. Edwards's performance made it look like inspired genius. No giant at just 5ft 8in, and playing only his second firstclass game, he became the seventh West Indian to take five wickets in an innings on debut, carving through Sri Lanka's first effort with a slingy, roundarm action. After Lara put the Sri Lankans in, Jayawardene became Edwards's first victim, caught by a diving Gayle at second slip, and, having been entrusted with the second new ball, Edwards took the last four wickets for only 16 runs. West Indies dropped four catches, including top-scorer Sangakkara, put down by Taylor in his follow-through on four and finally lbw offering no shot after an obdurate 75. Despite these slips, Sri Lanka still reached only 208.

The skimpy total was soon made to look more competitive by Sri Lanka's bowlers, spearheaded by Nissanka. Playing only his fourth Test, he took five wickets inside 13 overs, a performance that would have been even more impressive had he pounded the ball in less, and let a seaming pitch do the work. Nissanka removed both openers after a deceptive first-wicket partnership of 54, exposing a middle order still heavily reliant on Lara, who was soon trapped on the back foot by Muralitharan's straight ball. Pockets of lower-order resistance then lifted West Indies to within 17, an effort which grew in significance as Taylor - wicketless in the First Test - and Collymore worked through the Sri Lankan top order. On the long second day, 15 wickets had tumbled.

Concerned about leaving his side a target in excess of 250, Lara banked on Collymore on the third morning, and he delivered instantly. First, he bowled Tillekeratne playing across the line then, after a brief flurry from Dharmasena and Vaas, sliced through the rest of the lower order to finish with seven for 57. However, West Indies' task of making 212 still looked tricky, until Lara counter-attacked brilliantly. Continuing his battle with Muralitharan, he cracked his first ball from Murali to the rope for the third innings in a row, but also survived several close lbw appeals. Unperturbed, he continued going for his shots, gambling on inducing disarray. It worked. As boundaries flowed with increasing frequency from both Lara and Sarwan, Tillekeratne's body language betrayed panic. The last 92 runs came in less than 12 overs after tea, though Sarwan fell on the very cusp of victory, trying to end the match with another of the spectacular shots that characterised the 161-run stand with his resurgent captain.

© John Wisden & Co