Sri Lanka’s Warnapura powers team before lunch

PROVIDENCE, Guyana, March 22, 2008 (AFP) – Malinda Warnapura transported his rich vein of form into the opening Test against West Indies to race to a half-century before lunch and help Sri Lanka make a bright start. At the interval, Sri Lanka reached 85 without loss in their first innings with Warnapura unbeaten on 53 and Michael Vandort not out on 32, after the visitors chose to bat on the opening day on a hard, easy-paced Guyana National Stadium pitch.

Warnapura entered the Test with scores of 132 and 50 in Sri Lanka’s only warm-up prior to the Test against a West Indies Select XI.

He continued to give evidence that he may become a thorn in the West Indies’ side, and could be a successor to the retired Sanath Jayasuriya, when he reached his 50 with a back-foot drive through cover off Test newcomer and left-arm spin bowler Sulieman Benn for two.

The closest West Indies came to making a breakthrough was when Benn had a narrow chance to run-out Vandort in the first hour, when he attempted a quick single off Jerome Taylor.

But the two Sri Lanka batsmen kept their composure and plundered the West Indies’ bowling, forcing Chris Gayle to new-ball bowlers Daren Powell and Taylor from the attack early.