Muttiah Muralitharan took 6-36 on his return to Test cricket and Thilan Samaraweera top scored with 51 as Sri Lanka won the first Test against the West Indies by six wickets on Saturday.
Muralitharan's 45th five-wicket haul in Tests left Sri Lanka chasing a modest 172 for victory on the fourth day, a target they achieved comfortably despite fine fast bowling from Jermaine Lawson who took 4-43.
The 23-year-old Jamaican gave Sri Lanka a fright during a hostile post-lunch spell, taking the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya, for 15, Kumar Sangakkara for a duck and Marvan Atapattu for 28.
Jayasuriya was acrobatically caught at backward point by Xavier Marshall, Sangakkara edged his first ball to second slip and Atapattu glanced a catch down the leg side where wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin took a fine diving catch.
With Sri Lanka rattled West Indies, playing without 10 of their leading players due to a contract dispute, suddenly sensed the possibility of a major upset.
But Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene, who made 41 not out, rescued Sri Lanka, weathering a difficult spell against the West Indies pace bowlers and then counterattacking with some aggressive strokeplay during an 86-run fourth wicket stand.
Lawson returned after tea to separate the pair, trapping Samaraweera lbw for 51 with a full length inswinger, but vice-captain Jayawardene guided Sri Lanka home without further alarm in partnership with Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made 30 not out.
Like Muralitharan, Lawson marked his return to the Test arena after an injury layoff with a fine display, bowling at great pace on the flat Sinhalese Sports Club pitch and finishing with eight for 102 for the match.
The visitors, who had started the day precariously placed on 59-6 after losing three wickets during a rain-shortened third day, were bowled out for 113 just before the lunch break.
The 33-year-old off spinner was supported by left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas's fine all round display in which he took 7-50 for the match to add to his 49 runs in the first innings.
West Indies skipper Shivnarine Chanderpaul provided the main resistance to Muralitharan and batted for close to four hours for his unbeaten 48, top scoring for the second time in the match.
Muralitharan took his first two wickets early when Omari Banks bat-padded a catch to short leg for seven while Daren Powell was caught at silly point the next ball trying to smother a big-spinning off break.
Sri Lanka's progress was held up though for a further 74 minutes as tailender Tino Best scored 27 and added 44 runs with Chanderpaul for the eighth wicket.
But Muralitharan finally lured Best down the pitch to have the right-hander stumped by Sangakkara and then quickly dismissed last man Lawson off a top-edged sweep.
The second and final Test starts in Kandy on 22 July.
West Indies (1st innings): 285 (S. Chanderpaul 69, D. Ramdin 56; L. Malinga 4-71)
Sri Lanka (1st innings): 227 (J. Lawson 4-59)
West Indies (2nd innings): (Overnight: 59-6)
S. Joseph c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 2
X. Marshall lbw b Vaas 2
R. Morton lbw b Vaas 0
N. Deonarine lbw b Vaas 7
S. Chanderpaul not out 48
D. Smith lbw b Vaas 0
D. Ramdin lbw b Muralitharan 11
O. Banks c Dilshan b Muralitharan 7
D. Powell c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 0
T. Best st Sangakkara b Muralitharan 27
J. Lawson c sub b Muralitharan 0
Extras: (b-8, nb-1) 9
Total: (all out, 60 overs) 113
Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-3, 3-15, 4-21, 5-21, 6-48, 7-69, 8-69, 9-113.
Bowling: Vaas 18 - 9 - 15 4, Malinga 12 - 5 - 22 - 0 (nb-1), Muralitharan 21- 8 - 36 6, Jayasuriya 6 - 1 - 20 0, Herath 3 - 0 - 12 0.
Sri Lanka (2nd innings): (Target: 172 runs)
S. Jayasuriya c Marshall b Lawson 15
M. Atapattu c Ramdin b Lawson 28
K. Sangakkara c Joseph b Lawson 0
M. Jayawardene not out 41
T. Samaraweera lbw b Lawson 51
T. Dilshan not out 30
Extras: (lb-6 nb-2 w-2) 10
Total: (for 4 wickets, 38.3 overs) 175
Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-34, 3-49, 4-135
Did not bat: G. Wijekoon, C. Vaas, R. Herath, M. Muralitharan, L. Malinga
Bowling: D. Powell 8 - 0 - 44 - 0 (nb-2 w-1), Lawson 12 - 1 - 43 - 4 (w-1), Best 8.3 - 1 - 40 0, Banks 7 - 0 - 31 0, D.R. Smith 3 - 1 - 11 0.
Result: Sri Lanka won by 6 wickets