Sri Lanka 227 and 172 for 4 (Samaraweera 51, Lawson 4-43) beat West Indies 285 and 113 (Chanderpaul 48*, Muralitharan 6-36) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
West Indies' second-string team performed with far more verve than had been expected from them, but in the end Sri Lanka's experience and ability prevailed as they sealed a six-wicket win in the first Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo to go 1-0 up in the two-Test series. After Muttiah Muralitharan's 6 for 36 restricted the West Indians to a paltry 113, Sri Lanka briefly wobbled in their quest of 172, being reduced to 49 for 3, but an 86-run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera (51) ensured against a shock defeat in their 150th Test match.
Though West Indies were beaten, they were hardly disgraced. The lack of ability of some of their top-order batsmen will be a worry for the second Test, but there were enough encouraging signs too: Tino Best showed determination with the bat, scoring 27 and frustrating Sri Lanka for long periods in the fourth morning with Shivnarine Chanderpaul; Jermaine Lawson bowled with fire, pace and heart throughout the Test, regularly clocking around 145 kmph and taking all four wickets to fall in the Sri Lankan second innings, while Denesh Ramdin was flawless behind the stumps, bringing off an outstanding catch down the leg side and generally showing superb footwork and concentration.
Sri Lanka started their run-chase late in the morning and there was nothing in the five overs before lunch to suggest that they would struggle to reach the total, but two balls in the third over after the break changed the situation dramatically: first Sanath Jayasuriya slashed a catch to backward point off Lawson, then Kumar Sangakkara sparred at his first ball and was superbly snaffled in the slips. Thirty four without loss suddenly became 34 for 2, and a wobbly scenario turned positively worrisome when Marvan Atapattu was magnificently held down the leg side by Ramdin. Atapattu had been lucky to get away with a faint tickle down leg just before lunch, but Ramdin got his due the second time around as he moved smartly, dived, and then was completely balanced as he got to the ball with both hands.
West Indies were back in the game, but then Jayawardene and Samaraweera, who had both been dismissed through irresponsible strokes in the first innings, wrested back the initiative. They were helped in ample measure by the West Indian bowlers, who sent down generous helpings of half-volleys and full-tosses around leg stump. Both batsmen tucked into those offerings with relish, and the constant flurry of fours also ensured that there was little pressure on Sri Lanka. When they weren't hammering the boundaries, Jayawardene and Samaraweera were expertly placing the ball in the gaps and rotating the strike. Samaraweera, especially, changed gears after a circumspect start, smashing a slew of fours down the ground in the last half hour before tea. By the time Lawson finally trapped him lbw just after tea, Samaraweera had already done enough to ensure that victory was only a formality.
West Indies were badly let down by Daren Powell, who failed to get the rhythm which had made him such a force in the first innings. And when Chanderpaul turned to his only specialist spinner, there was little succour, as Omari Banks strayed on both sides of the wicket and bowled plenty of full-tosses. The fielders still showed plenty of desperation, but there was little support from the bowlers.
Banks might do well to take a few tips on offspin bowling from Muralitharan, who returned to form after a 11-month absence from Test cricket. In the West Indian first innings, Muralitharan had played the support act to the pace bowlers, but this morning he got fizz and plenty of turn on his offbreaks, and then mixed it up quite superbly with the doosra. Chanderpaul kept him at bay quite competently, but his lack of initiative when batting with the tail meant that he was left high and dry on 48.
With the sun out and conditions not quite as favourable for swing bowling as they were on the third day, Atapattu turned to Muralitharan after seven overs, and he needed just two deliveries to strike, as he drew Banks forward and induced a bat-pad chance which Tillakaratne Dilshan shaffled at short leg (69 for 7). Muralitharan then made it two in two as Powell popped the next ball straight to silly point.
Chanderpaul had only added two to his overnight 29 at that stage, and with the lead a trifling 127, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect him to try and take charge. However, quite inexplicably, Chanderpaul made no effort to up the pace or farm the strike, often taking a single off the first or second ball of the over and exposing Best to a marauding Muralitharan.
Best struggled initially, looking every bit a No. 10 batsman. However, he slowly grew in confidence, and even began reading Muralitharan's doosra with confidence. And soon after getting past his previous-highest Test score of 20, Best produced a sparkling straight-drive off Malinga. It was too good to last, though, and next over, Best charged down the track to Muralitharan, missed, and was easily stumped. The 44-run partnership did frustrate the Sri Lankans, though, and it should earn Best a promotion up the batting order for the next Test.
Murali wrapped up the innings five balls later, leaving Sri Lanka with a target they would have backed themselves to achieve with a fair degree of comfort. They struggled for a while, but finally made it to the finish line with enough to spare.
How they were out
West Indies second innings
Omari Banks c Dilshan b Muralitharan 7 (69 for 7)
Lunged forward and popped a bat-pad catch to short leg
Daren Powell c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 0 (69 for 8)
Another bat-pad catch, this time to silly point
Tino Best st Sangakkara b Muralitharan 27 (113 for 9)
Charged down the track, missed, and was comfortably stumped
Jermaine Lawson c sub (Chandana) b Muralitharan 0 (113 all out)
Mistimed a sweep and was caught at short fine leg
Sri Lankan second innings
Sanath Jayasuriya c Marshall b Lawson 15 (34 for 1)
Slashed at one outside off and was neatly taken at backward point
Kumar Sangakkara c Joseph b Lawson 0 (34 for 2)
Tried to force off the back foot and Joseph dived to his left and held on with both hands
Marvan Atapattu c Ramdin b Lawson 28 (49 for 3)
Outstanding diving catch down the leg side as Atapattu tickled a flick
Thilan Samaraweera lbw b Lawson 53 (135 for 4)
Played from the crease to one which nipped back and was trapped plumb in front