Karunaratne solid as Sri Lanka, rain frustrate West Indies

North Sound (Antigua and Barbuda) (AFP) –


Determination and good fortune paid off for Sri Lanka's openers with Lahiru Thirimanne and captain Dimuth Karunaratne taking their team to 93 without loss at lunch after a rain-shortened first session of the last day of the second and final Test against the West Indies and the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Friday.

Karunaratne will resume after lunch on 54 with Thirimanne, who has compiled half-centuries in the three previous innings in the series, on 37.

Set to start the day with 29 runs already on the scoreboard and faced with the challenge of getting 377 for victory, any realistic prospect of engaging in such a daunting chase effectively disappeared when early-morning rain resulted in just over an hour's play being lost before a ball was bowled.

When play did get underway, West Indies needed early success to keep them interested in pulling off a series-clinching victory following the drawn first Test at the same venue eight days earlier when it was the Caribbean side who batted through the final day to defy the tourists' victory bid.

Shannon Gabriel should have removed Thirimanne, then on 17, in the course of his second over when a lifting delivery on the body of the left-hander bushed a glove only for wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva to spill the chance having covered ground well down the legside.

Karunaratne, who has endured a terrible series with the bat before this final innings, looked decidedly uncomfortable to the off-spin of Rahkeem Cornwall, the inside edge of his bat saving him on a couple of occasions from concerted leg-before appeals.

Having survived that test, the Sri Lankan skipper brought up a 25th Test half-century with a straight-driven boundary off the part-time spin of Jermaine Blackwood and will be entertaining thoughts, together with the consistent Thirimanne, of getting to three figures in seeking to take their team to safety by the end of the day.