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CARIBBEAN - cricket match - Windies vs Sri Lanka

West Indies skipper Shivnarine Chanderpaul caught by Mahela Jayawardene

by TONY COZIER in Kandy Tuesday July 26th 2005

THE TENACITY that kept the overwhelmingly outclassed West Indies competitive for much of the series was finally and emphatically broken by two Kandy men over the last two days as the second Test, and the series, came to their predictable end.

In a defiant, unbeaten 157 that started on his old Trinity College ground on Saturday afternoon and carried through until yesterday morning, the left-handed Kumar Sangakkara converted the virtually deadlocked first innings totals into a certain winning position for Sri Lanka.

When Marvan Atapattu declared 377 ahead, 40 minutes into the delayed opening session, the question was not whether a miracle was within the capacity of the West Indies batting, enfeebled by the loss of its premier players over their dispute with the WICB, but simply whether they could make a reasonable fist of it.

The answer was that they couldn't.

After outdoing themselves by posting 271 for six on the opening day of the series, the West Indies batted like the untried novices they are, to be bowled out for 113 and 148 in their next innings. This time, they could manage a mere 137 and were beaten by 240 runs just before tea with a day to spare.

As they struggled to cope with the wiles of Muttiah Muralitharan, like Sangakkara a native of these parts, the mesmerising effect of high quality spin bowling, so evident in another Test in faraway Lord's over the weekend, was further emphasised.

Just as Shane Warne, Australia's compelling leg-spinner, perplexed England's batsmen in his team's emphatic win in the opening Ashes Test in London, so did Muralitharan hurry the West Indies to their defeat.

The 33-year-old rubber-jointed Sri Lankan's huge off-breaks and contrasting doosras, the disguised delivery that turns in the opposite direction, scythed through the innings that lasted 41.2 overs.

When he bowled Tino Best to complete the rout, his figures were eight for 46 from 16.2 consecutive overs.

It brought his tally of Test wickets to 549, still 40 short of Warne, three years his senior who has played 124 matches against his 93.

Muralitharan has claimed nine in an innings twice and eight once before. This was the 46th time he accounted for at least half the opposition wickets in an innings. With two wickets in the first, it represented his 13th return of 10 or more wickets in a match.

No one else in history comes close on either count. Only Brian Lara has ever truly mastered him, categorically so with his 688 runs in six innings when the West Indies were last in Sri Lanka four years ago.

Somehow, they lost all three Tests by substantial margins then as well.

Lara and others who usually comprise the top order are among ten of the original 13 who decided not to sign the offered tour contract and were absent. The batting replacements, none with more than three Tests to his name and one on debut, were clearly out of their depth.

At Lord's, Warne had to share the spotlight with Glenn McGrath, the impeccable seam bowler. Muralitharan had the stage all to himself in the town where he grew up
and perfected his art.

Sri Lanka's McGrath, the left-arm swinger Chaminda Vaas who had taken six wickets in the first innings and seven in the first Test, was unavailable with a hamstring injury.

In his second Test back since recovering from a shoulder operation last year, Muralitharan's dismissals were in familiar mode as the West Indies folded in their quest to make an acceptable show.

Four were to catches close to the bat, four bowled and one lbw.

One had already gone by the time Muralitharan was introduced after lunch for the ninth over. Xavier Marshall has been clueless against the swinging ball and was immediately unsettled by the away movement of Lasith Malinga, the pacy
round-arm slinger.

He was dropped at third slip off his first ball, played and missed most of the 14 received and was finally lbw to one of full length that he attempted to play to leg.

Malinga's disconcerting pace and bounce had Ryan Ramdass anxiously fending off his body and then thumped Runako Morton a ringing blow to the back of the helmet that held up play for five minutes while he got his bearings back.

It was impressive stuff from the Sri Lankan livewire but only a prelude to the main Muralitharan show.

The spin king had to wait until his tenth ball for his first victim, Morton lbw on the front foot to a doosra he failed to pick up. The rest followed in steady procession,

Ramdass, who played with increasing assurance for 23, and Sylvester Joseph prodded catches to silly point from successive balls, both to Mahela Jayawardene who held four in all.

Once more, captain Shivanarine Chanderpaul, the only one on the team with a genuine Test record, was left with the weight of the innings on his shoulders.

He was lucky with two narrow escapes, a low, difficult leg-side miss by wicket-keeper Sangakkara off Malinga and an edge between keeper and slip off Muralitheran.

He was in for 55 minutes for 24 when he broke Muralitheran's sequence with another Jayawardene catch at silly mid-off, this off left-arm spinner Nayan Herath.

Even if they did not suggest permanence, Narsingh Deonarine and wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin both approached their impossible task positively.

Deonarine had a couple of authentic cover-driven boundaries and a clean hit for six over midwicket off Muralitheran in his 29, his second topscore of the match. Favouring the sweep, Ramdin had five fours in 28.

But they were among the last five wickets that were all Muralitheran's.

The left-handed Deonarine was bowled off-stump, playing back to a doosra and Omari Banks was athletically taken by Sangakkara off an edges sweep.

Daren Powell was Jayawardene's fourth catch of the innings and Ramdin and Best were both bowled, the former playing over an ondrive and Best missing a slog.

The arrival of Best signaled the reintroduction of Malinga, presumably to exact revenge for the West Indian fast bowler's dangerously high full tosses that led to his eventual suspension. Instead, he was hit for two spanking boundaries, a straight drive by Ramdin and a Gordon Greenidge patented pull off the hip by Best.

But these were only the parting salvos in a cause long since lost. Prior to Sri Lanka's morning declaration, Best was debarred from bowling by umpire Tony Hill under the law covering unfair play after delivering his second deliberate high full pitch for the innings.

It has become an ugly habit of Best's. He was twice similarly suspended in the 2003 Carib Beer season for the same reasons, warned on the West Indies 'A' team's tour of England a year earlier and penalised with a no-ball for the same delivery in the first innings, to Muralitheran.

Match referee Mike Procter has reported the incident, only the third in Test cricket, to the International Cricket Council (ICC) for further possible action.

 

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