On October 20, 1995, Sri Lanka registered a comfortable 50-run victory over the West Indies to win the Singer Champions Trophy 1995. On a day when nothing was going right for Richie Richardson’s West Indies, Sri Lanka’s top three batsmen and Muttiah Muralitharan took their team to a commanding win. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.
The dismal start
Richie Richardson winning the toss was perhaps the last good thing that happened to the West Indies on that fateful Friday. Even the result of that had severe repercussions for the West Indies. Richardson took a gamble, his second one of the tournament, by putting Sri Lanka in to bat on a flat wicket at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium.
The West Indies bowlers had to toil very hard to get a breakthrough as the Sri Lankan openers Sanath Jayasuriya and in-form batsman Roshan Mahanama took the Sri Lankan total past the 100-run mark without the fall of any wicket.
The first wicket arrived with the score on Nelson (111) as Jayasuriya hit a delivery from Anderson Cummins to Ottis Gibson. Jayasuriya was gone for 57 off 82 deliveries. By the time the West Indies got rid of Mahanama (66) and Aravinda de Silva (50) Sri Lanka had set a solid foundation. Aggressive de Silva’s 50 took him just 35 deliveries as the Sri Lankans were cruising at a run rate of close to five and a half.
The change in tide
At 196 for three, Sri Lanka still had the upper hand. However, the tide took a sudden diversion. Ranatunga, who had just one fifty to his name in the tournament, fell cheaply. Gibson struck to dismantle the Sri Lankan middle-order with wickets of Hashan Tillakaratne, Asanka Gurusinha and Chandika Hathurusingha. From 215 for four, Sri Lanka were down to 269 for eight, thanks to Gibson’s fast bowling exploits.
Raman Subba Row and the slow over-rate
The West Indies bowlers had to hurry up their act of wrapping up the Sri Lankan innings as they were way behind in terms of over-rate. At 262 for seven, the match referee Raman Subba Row called for a lunch break with still seven balls to play in the innings.
When the teams then returned, Gibson had the ball again and three wickets fell in the final over. He picked up two — Hathurusingha and Kumar Dharmasena — while Eric Upashantha was run out. The Sri Lankan innings ended on 273.
The West Indies reply
In reply to a daunting total of 273, the West Indies lost their way early on. In what was only his second One-Day International (ODI), Upashantha accounted for the wickets of two of the top-three batsmen — Stuart Williams and Brian Lara.
Sherwin Campbell and Richie Richardson tried to put on a partnership but miscommunication between the duo led to the West Indies captain’s dismissal. Campbell, who was still fighting at the top of the order, was undone by a peach-of-a-delivery from Muralitharan that foxed him completely and crashed on to his stumps. He fell for 38 with the West Indies struggling at 88 for five.
Chanderpaul and Harper added 53 runs for the sixth wicket, to keep the Sri Lankans on their toes despite being in a good position to win comprehensively. Chanderpaul and Harper were calculated in their strokeplay and were happy to just rotate strike and get an odd boundary when the opportunity presented itself. The partnership was slow, but it was building into something of substantial nature, until Kumar Dharmasena came like a marauding wave and ruined their efforts. He got the better of Chanderpaul who chipped a delivery straight into the hands of Muralitharan. Muralitharan then took a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Harper to reduce the West Indies to 156 for seven.
Two more wickets fell and Sri Lankans were just one wicket away from a win. At 177 for nine, the final wicket was just a formality to crown Sri Lanka as champions of the 1995 Singer Champions Trophy. The last pair of Gibson and Hamish Anthony did their bit to delay Sri Lanka a win by staying on the wicket for a longer period than anybody would have anticipated. In the process they added 43 runs from just 32 deliveries as Gibson was doing well to complement his good show with the ball by trying to bring West Indies an unlikely surprise win. He scored 33, with one six and three fours. His partner, Anthony also got a couple of boundaries but became Dharmasena’s second victim of the day. West Indies were bowled out for 223, giving Sri Lanka a win by 50 runs.
Sri Lanka 273 in 49.5 overs (Roshan Mahanama 66, Sanath Jayasuriya 57; Ottis Gibson 4 for 35) beat West Indies 223 in 47.3 overs (Sherwin Campbell 38, Ottis Gibson 33*; Muttiah Muralitharan 3 for 31) by 50 runs.
Man of the Match: Aravinda de Silva
Man of the Series: Roshan Mahanama