PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) - Thilan Samaraweera smacked a brilliant 125 to rescue a wobbling Sri Lanka on Saturday and set West Indies 253 to win the second cricket test and save the series.
The visitors, 1-0 up in the two-test series, were bowled out for a second time on the last ball of the third day for 268 to leave West Indies with two days to make a challenging victory target at Queen's Park Oval.
Samaraweera and Chaminda Vaas shared a seventh-wicket stand of 138 that pulled Sri Lanka from peril at 99 for six.
Samaraweera crafted his sixth test hundred in five hours from 199 balls and struck 18 boundaries.
Veteran Vaas contributed 45 spanning 114 balls in just over three hours.
"I think every hundred is the best," Samaraweera said. "My debut hundred was a special one and I scored one in Pakistan after we were nine for three and saved Sri Lanka. But this one is special."
Samaraweera also praised Vaas with whom he shared the innings-reviving stand.
"Vaas was special. He is brilliant for Sri Lankan cricket and he did really well in supporting me."
Samaraweera added he was confident of winning in the last two days for a first series victory in the Caribbean.
"I think we have a good chance because we have a special spinner in Murali and the bounce is uneven," he said. "I think the new ball is also key. If we can get two, three wickets with the new ball we will win definitely."
Jerome Taylor led the West Indians with four for 52 and added a critical run out.
The home team spent the first hour of the day eking out a first-innings lead of 16 after resuming on 268-7 in reply to Sri Lanka's 278.
West Indies added 26 runs but the last three wickets tumbled for five runs as Muttiah Muralitharan completed his 63rd five-wicket haul in tests.
The offspinner ended with 5-79. He claimed Denesh Ramdin to a sharp catch to first slip for 13 while Daren Powell was plumb leg before to one that kept a bit low on 3.
In between, Vaas claimed Taylor for 13 to a clear lbw verdict.
Sri Lanka's second innings was rocked early by Taylor, who provided two wickets in his first over. He claimed Malinda Warnapura for a duck and ran out Michael Vandort for 1.
Warnapura edged to third slip where Sewnarine Chattergoon pouched a good catch while Vandort was a yard out after Taylor's athletic pickup and direct hit on follow through.
Fidel Edwards and Powell provided the key scalps of captain Mahela Jaywardene and world No. 1-rated batsman Kumar Sangakkara as Sri Lanka slipped to 32-4.
Jayawardene struck three boundaries in his 12 before dragging a wide delivery from Edwards back onto his stumps.
Sangakkara fell in the next over for 14 as he deflected a catch to Marlon Samuels at gully.
Samaraweera and Tillakaratne Dilshan countered in an enterprising fifth-wicket stand of 41 but were separated just before lunch.
Dilshan lashed four fours and a meaty pull for six in 25 before having his off stump uprooted by Taylor as he missed a drive.
Taylor struck again after the interval as the visitors slumped to 99-6 when Chamara Silva sliced a drive on 13 to gully where Samuels held a fine, two-handed catch to his left.
But Samaraweera and Vaas dulled the West Indian edge for much of the remainder of the day.
Samaraweera, the Singhalese Sports Club right-hander, brought up his century off 173 balls with two successive boundaries, his 14th and 15th, off Edwards.
He lost Vaas soon afterward as Chris Gayle induced an edge to wicketkeeper Ramdin.
Samaraweera eventually perished when an inspired diving save and pinpoint return from Marlon Samuels earned a run out.
Taylor returned to end the innings with a bouncer that Muralitharan top-edged to fine leg.
Sri Lanka 1st Innings 278
West Indies 1st Innings
(Overnight: 268 for seven)
C Gayle c Vandort b Thushara 45
S Chattergoon b Vaas 46
R Sarwan c Warnapura b Muralitharan 57
M Samuels lbw b Muralitharan 3
S Chanderpaul lbw b Thushara 18
D Smith b Muralitharan 47
D Bravo lbw b Amerasinghe 26
D Ramdin c Jayawardene b M’tharan 13
J Taylor lbw b Vaas 13
D Powell lbw b Muralitharan 3
F Edwards not out 1
Extras: (5lb, 2w, 15nb) 22
TOTAL: (all out) 294
Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-137, 3-141, 4-177, 5-199, 6-246, 7-266, 8-289, 9-291, 10-294.
Bowling: Vaas 23-1-76-2 (8nb), Amerasinghe 12-1-62-1, Thushara 12-0-72-2 (5nb, 2w), Muralitharan 29.2-4-79-5 (2nb).
Sri Lanka 2nd Innings
M Vandort run out (Taylor) 1
M Warnapura c Chattergoon b Taylor 0
K Sangakkara c Samuels b Powell 14
M Jayawardene b Edwards 12
T Samaraweera run out 125
T Dilshan b Taylor 25
C Silva c Samuels b Taylor 13
C Vaas c Ramdin b Gayle 45
T Thushara c Ramdin b Bravo 10
M Muralitharan c Powell b Taylor 4
I Amerasinghe not out 0
Extras: (1b, 10lb, 6w, 2nb) 19
TOTAL: (all out) 268
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-4, 3-32, 4-32, 5-73, 6-99, 7-237, 8-252, 9-268, 10-268.
Bowling: Daren Powell 13-4-49-1 (5w), Jerome Taylor 15.1-1-52-4 (1w), Fidel Edwards 14-1-62-1 (2nb), Dwayne Bravo 19-5-64-1, Chris Gayle 14-0-30-1.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: Simon Taufel, Australia, and Billy Bowden, New Zealand.
Third umpire: Goaland Greaves, West Indies.
Match referee: Chris Broad, England.