Sri Lanka captain says batting meltdown hurt chances

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, April 7, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has identified his side’s batting meltdown early in their second innings as the turning point in the second and final Test against West Indies which ended on Sunday. Ramnaresh Sarwan hit 102 and Shivnarine Chanderpaul was unbeaten on 86, as West Indies, chasing 253 runs for victory, reached their target a little over an hour after tea, when left-hander Devon Smith slapped a delivery from off-spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan through cover for four to a cacophony of noise from a partisan crowd that swelled to 8,000.

Although Jayawardene credited Sarwan and Chanderpaul for the way they batted, he believes the foundation for the West Indies’ victory – which levelled the two-Test series – was laid when the home team ran through the Sri Lanka top-order and sent the visitors crashing to 99 for six on Saturday’s third day.

“After the first two days, we knew it was going to be a tough battle to see who was going to take the advantage,” said Jayawardene.

“After the first innings, it was pretty much even. Then we lost four wickets pretty early in the second innings, and that was probably where things went wrong for us.

“One was a run out, a couple of bad shot