By Hafiz Marikar
Left arm spinner Rangana Herath came out with a magnificent spell of bowling to frustrate the West Indies before bad weather once again intervened on the fourth day of the third and final Test match which continued at the Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy yesterday.
The thirty two year old stole the limelight on another wet and gloomy day as the visitors slumped to 303 for 8 in their first innings when ran halted play shortly after the lunch interval at 12.50 p.m.
Herath bowled unchanged during the first session of play and was searching for his fifth five wicket haul after having returned excellent figures of four wickets for 54 from 23 overs when rain intervened once again. Going into the fifth and final day today the match seems headed for a watery grave with no chance of any result – Sri Lanka yet to bat in the match.
Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara a product of Kandy, said it would be disappointing if Sri Lanka finished the three match test series without a win, due to bad weather. All three tests were affected by rain. West Indies Manager Joel Garner, who understandably seemed annoyed asked tongue in cheek if it was true that whenever a test series was played in the country, the rains comes down.
It is going to be a sad baptism for the picturesque Palekelle International Stadium in Kandy, the eighth test venue in Sri Lanka which was opened with a religious ceremony at the start of the match with the clergy invoking blessings on the new venue but the weather gods don’t seem to have heard any of it.
The West Indians took the first lease of the wicket and faced 40 overs to score 134 runs for the loss of two wickets on the first day, with Chris Gayle falling LBW to Surganga Lakmal for a duck in the every first ball of the game. Five days later the initial excitement has proven to be an anti climax with the rest of the match turning out to be a big yawn. Suranga Lakmal followed Kapil Dev and Imran Khan, as the three medium pacers to take the first wicket in the first ball. On the second day the West Indians continuing from their overnight score, progressed to 244 for the loss of 5 wickets.
Not a ball was bowled on the third day. Both camps headed to Pallekele hoping to push for a result in their favour, but soon enough a funeral like atmosphere engulfed the grounds as the rains came down. Not surprisingly, even after the gates were opened free, only a handful of people were seen at the ground and in all probability it will be left to the two priests (umpires) to perform the final rites on the last day today. If someone needs to take the blame for this disaster it certainly isn’t the weather.
Manager And Bowler Off To Australia
West Indies Manager Joel Garner will leave for Perth, Australia tomorrow (6) with bowler, Shane Shillingford but will be back in time for the one day series starting December 9. Shillingford was reported for a suspect action by the umpires in the first test at Galle. (HM)