Sri Lanka in control of cricket test

PROVIDENCE, Guyana, March 24, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka seized control of the opening Test against West Indies on Monday although their hosts need eight more runs to avoid the follow-on. West Indies, replying to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 476 for eight declared, reached 269 for nine when stumps were drawn on a compelling third day’s play.

Sri Lanka’s bowlers toiled all day on the easy-paced Guyana National Stadium pitch, but Ramnaresh Sarwan with a top score of 80 and the West Indies lower-order thwarted their plans to enforce the follow-on.

Chaminda Vaas, fellow left-arm fast-medium bowler Thilan Thushara, and off-spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan shared eight wickets between to bolster Sri Lanka’s hold on the Test.

Vaas has captured three wickets for 45 runs from 22 overs, Muralitharan three for 104 from 38 overs, and Thushara two for 59 from 20 overs.

But Sri Lanka found it difficult to dislodge the second half of the West Indies batting, after the home team subsided to 109 for five in the first over after lunch.

The Sri Lankans bowled with discipline, but Sarwan, batting with aplomb, added a valuable 53 for the sixth wicket with left-hander Ryan Hinds.