Sri Lanka beat West Indies by 39 runs in rain-marred match

Sri Lanka beat West Indies on July 8, 2013 to go to the top of the tri-series points table © AFP

By Shrikant Shankar

Port of Spain: Jul 8, 2013

Sri Lanka beat West Indies by 39 runs (via Duckworth/Lewis method) in the fifth match of the Caribbean tri-series at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad on July 8, 2013. Sri Lanka had posted a challenging total of 219 for eight in their 41 overs. West Indies could only manage 190 for nine from 41 overs in response to a revised 230-run target. Sri Lanka have moved to the top of the standings with nine points from three matches.

They are ahead of the West Indies on superior net run rate. The hosts have played out all their four matches. India are third in the table with five points and will play their last match against Sri Lanka at the same venue on July 9, 2013.

The chase began on a positive note for West Indies as openers Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles played some aggressive strokes. Gayle slashed hard at a wide delivery from Shaminda Eranga and got a four over the slip cordon in the second over. Charles then slapped a length delivery from Nuwan Kulasekara over midwicket for a four in the very next over.

On the fifth ball of the over, Gayle played a half-hearted checked shot — to a ball that stopped on him — back to the bowler. Kulasekara went for the catch with both hands to his left, but the seam of the ball collided with his knuckles and left a gash on his left index finger. Kulasekara was in tremendous pain and walked off the field to receive medical attention.

Gayle then struck a couple of fours off Eranga through the covers and mid-off respectively. Looking at the state of the situation, captain Angelo Mathews decided to come into the attack. He struck in his very first over as he sent Gayle (14 off 17 balls) back to the dressing room. Gayle could only top-edge a gentle delivery outside off stump as Eranga, at short third-man, took a simple catch.

Eranga then struck off his own over. Charles’s pull off a short ball only found the toe-end of the bat and went straight back towards the bowler, who took a brilliant reflex low catch. Then at the end of the over, West Indies were 29 for three. Marlon Samuels played a lazy drive off the back-foot to a short of a length delivery, but found the edge and Mahela Jayawardene took a sharp catch at wide first slip.

In the ninth over, West Indies lost their fourth wicket for only 31 runs. Mathews got Devon Smith out leg-before for a duck. After that came a resolute partnership between Darren Bravo and Lendl Simmons for the fifth wicket. They started cautiously but began playing their shots as the innings progressed.

The Sri Lankan bowlers seemed to relax after their earlier exploits and the duo added 123 runs together. Simmons was more the aggressor as he hit fours and sixes at will. The rain threatened to change the D/L target again in the 32nd over. Looking at the situation, Simmons went for a lofted inside-out shot over covers off the bowling of Eranga, but only to find Lahiru Thirimanne at deep cover. Simmons scored 67 off 78 balls with five fours and four sixes.

Then Lasith Malinga dismissed Kieron Pollard for a duck off the next over. The stand-in West Indies captain played away from his body to a back of a length delivery from Malinga and only managed to edge it to Kumar Sangakkara behind the wickets.

Then Darren Sammy and Bravo added 18 runs for the seventh wicket. Sammy skied a length delivery and Malinga took a good catch off his own bowling. Bravo (70 off 84 balls), who till that time held the fort, went for a shot too many and sliced a flat-batted shot to long-off as Jeevan Mendis took a simple catch off the bowling of Mathews. The Sri Lankan captain then got his fourth wicket of the match as Jason Holder played across the line to a slower delivery and missed to get bowled.

The last pair of Kemar Roach and Tino Best managed to stay not out, but it was not enough as Sri Lanka won the match and topped the table.

Earlier, Sri Lanka reached a total of 219 for eight thanks mainly to Sangakkara’s unbeaten 90 off 95 deliveries. They were at one stage 29 for three and then 93 for four. Roach was the pick of the bowlers as he took four wickets for 27 runs. Holder took two wickets for 50 runs. Mathews was the next highest scorer with 30 runs.

The match was scheduled to be played on July 7 but was moved to the reserve day due to heavy rain delays. At the time rain played spoilsport, Sri Lanka were at 60 for three in 19 overs after having been sent into bat by the West Indies. Lahiru Thirimanne was batting on 13 and Sangakkara was on 11. Kemar Roach had taken two wickets for 19 runs from his seven overs.

The resumption of the match on Monday also was delayed by constant rain. After many such delays, the match was reduced to a 41-overs-a-side contest.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 219 for 8 in 41 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 90*, Angelo Mathews 30; Kemar Roach 4 for 27, Jason Holder 2 for 50) beat West Indies 190 for 9 in 41 overs (Darren Bravo 70, Lendl Simmons 67; Angelo Mathews 4 for 29, Shaminda Eranga 3 for 46) by 39 runs (D/L method).

Man of the Match: Kumar Sangakkara

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(Shrikant Shankar previously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)