Rain before lunch and after tea again slowed West Indies' efforts to square the three-Test series against Sri Lanka on the third day of the second cricket Test yesterday.

West Indies were 39 for one, in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings total of 288, after heavy overnight rain saturated the Asgiriya Stadium outfield and forced a delayed start by three-and-a-half hours.

West Indies needed a little under four overs to draw the curtains on the Sri Lanka first innings after the host resumed from their overnight position of 273 for eight.

Pedro Collins broke through the overnight pair when he bowled Nuwan Zoysa for 23 in the third over of the day, ending a ninth-wicket stand of 32 with Niroshan Bandaratillake. He ended with four wickets for 84 runs.

Mervyn Dillon had Muttiah Muralitharan caught at mid-off for four to bring the innings to a close and give the West Indies fast bowler his third wicket.

Zoysa then condemned Daren Ganga to a first-ball duck when he had the West Indies opening batsman caught at third slip with his first ball on return to Test cricket.

Chris Gayle, with four fours in an undefeated 25, and Ramnaresh Sarwan, unbeaten on 12, carried West Indies through to the rain-induced close with little or no alarms.

Sri Lanka lead the series 1-0 after their ten-wicket win in the opening Test at Galle.