| Brian Lara and Corey Collymore celebrate the dismissal of Sri Lanka skipper Hashan Tillekeratne at Sabina Park on Day III of the second and final Test. (AFP) (Reuters)
Kingston: Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan put on a 161-run stand to carry the West Indies to a series-clinching victory against Sri Lanka on Sunday after Corey Collymore had ripped through the tourists’ batting.
West Indies took less than 43 overs to reach their second innings target of 212 for the loss of just three wickets and win the two-Test series 1-0 as Lara struck an unbeaten 80 and Sarwan chipped in with 82 before being caught by Sanath Jayasuriya.
Paceman Collymore completed figures of seven for 57, the best by a West Indies bowler in Tests for eight years, as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 194 in their second innings.
He was named Man of the Match and the series.
West Indies skipper Lara was elated by the seven-wicket victory, achieved with more than two days remaining.
“We’ve worked over the last three months to get the right combination and the right attitude,” he said. “I’d say we now have the right 16 or 17 players to choose from to do well over the long term. I’m really looking forward to the future.”
Lara emerged from tea in the mood to wrap things up quickly, scoring boundaries from a leg flick and a towering hook as the West Indies began the session on 120 for two.
Sarwan then reached his half-century with a powerful sweep to the square leg fence off Muttiah Muralidharan.
In the next over, Sarwan thumped two fours and a mighty six off the tiring Prabath Nissanka, for whom Saturday’s career-best five for 64 must have seemed a distant memory.
Both enjoyed themselves as they coasted towards the winning target and engaged in an crowd-thrilling race to score runs.
Like Sarwan, Lara reached his half-century in style, sending Muralidharan to the fence with a fine cover drive. He then thumped two classically-executed boundaries against Kumar Dharmasena, who compounded his misery by dropping Lara at long leg when the batsman skied his hook attempt.
Lara hit a towering six over the mid-wicket fence to take West Indies within five runs of victory before Sarwan was caught off Vaas with his team needing just one run for victory. It was left to Lara to wrap up the victory.
The low-scoring second Test was turned into a three-day affair by some excellent bowling by both teams on a pacey Sabina Park wicket, but helped by some indifferent batting performances on both sides.
West Indies took a calculated risk by playing four fast bowlers, three of whom shared only three previous Test games between them, and dropping specialist batsman Daren Ganga.
Collymore’s final tally of nine wickets should rid him of the ‘one-day specialist tag’ that he has carried after making a single Test appearance in 1999.
He took five for 67 in the drawn first Test after receiving his recall to the team last week. Fidel Edwards, who had just one first class match to his name, also posted a memorable five for 36 on debut. The 21-year old swung the ball at will and his lusty round-arm action, reminiscent of Australian Jeff Thomson, was a major talking point of the game.