Sri Lanka 214-4 at tea

Updated: July 24, 2005, 7:11 AM ET
Reuters

KANDY, Sri Lanka -- Kumar Sangakkara tightened Sri Lanka's grip on the second test against West Indies by hitting 78 not out as the hosts reached 214-4 at tea on a rain-interrupted third day on Sunday.

Sri Lanka, who started the day on 146-2, added 25 runs during a 41-minute morning session and then 43 runs during a 64-minute afternoon session to leave themselves with a 216-run lead on a difficult batting pitch.

Sangakkara extended his third wicket partnership with Mahela Jayawardene (43) to 98 from 179 balls before Jermaine Lawson struck twice in his opening over of the day.

After slow-scoring on either side of the lunch interval, Sangakkara compiled a further 59 runs with Tillakaratne Dilshan (25 not out) to leave the hosts in firm control of the test.

Sangakkara started with a streaky glance just wide of a diving Denesh Ramdin behind the stumps to bring up his 19th fifty and was then forced to graft hard for his runs.

The 27-year-old left-hander faced 164 balls during a four-and-a-half vigil that leaves him nearing his eighth test century and the first hundred by batsmen of both sides in this low-scoring series.

Lawson, who was reported for having a suspect bowling action after taking 8-102 in the first test, had earlier given the tourist's hope with a double strike in his first over of the day.

Jayawardene picked up a boundary with a classic on-drive before being bowled for 43 by a shooter that kept low and cut back to knock his off-stump.

Two balls later Thilan Samaraweera glanced a delivery down the leg-side to be caught by wicket-keeper Ramdin for nought.

However, Sangakkara and Dilshan settled down to build another important stand, eking out runs slowly at first before a burst of boundaries midway through the afternoon as Tino Best conceded 19 runs from a two-over spell.

Shortly afterwards play was suspended again because of rain and the players took an early tea.

Sri Lanka won the first test in Colombo by six wickets.