Sri Lanka v West Indies at Chester-Le-Street Match 39

Neil Whitaker reports

SRI Lankan veteran Angelo Mathews took the vital wicket of Nicholas Pooran with his first ball in this year’s tournament to put the match beyond the West Indies after they had nearly achieved a World Cup record chase.

When Mathews came on to bowl the West Indies needed 31 to win from three overs with Pooran, who hit his first ODI century, on 118. He chased a wide delivery and edged it to stumper Kusal Perera.

12 overs earlier it looked like it would be a comfortable victory for Sir Lanka as the West Indies were 199 for six but Pooran and 24 year old Fabian Allen added 83 in 10 overs.  Pooran pulled Kasun Rajitha for a massive six over deep mid wicket into the pavilion against the wind.

Mathews said: “I have not bowled for eight months but we knew that we had two overs to make up so I said to the captain I have a bit of experience and I’ll bowl the two overs.  Pooran was the man we needed and fortunately I got him first before he had the chance to hit me for a couple of sixes.”

Allen also made his best ODI score of 51.  He brought his fifty up with a straight six off Rajitha.  With victory within their grasp their partnership ended in bizarre fashion when Pooran ran for a leg by but Allen didn’t move till Pooran, almost shaking hands with him, then Allen set off and was run out.

Mathews added: “He batted brilliantly and our bowlers had no answer to him, in the end we were fortunate to get that run out.”

Avishka Fernando hit his first ODI century in his ninth ODI match as Sri Lanka finally showed the World Cup audience what they could do.  21 year old Fernando’s century came from 100 balls and included two sixes and eight fours. He reached his and Sri Lanka’s first century of the tournament when he pushed Carlos  Brathwaite out to mid wicket for a couple.

He pulled Sheldon Cottrell over square leg for a six over the longest boundary for his first six, Fernando did the same again later in his innings when he pulled Cottrell off his front leg for a massive six over square leg.

Fernando drove Jason Holder straight back over his head for a one bounce four.  He danced down the wicket to Allen and drilled him to the extra cover boundary.

Fernando drove Oshane Thomas to mid off and couldn’t see if the ball had passed Holder but still set off for a single.  After getting ¾ of the way down the wicket Fernando decided to turn back. Holder threw to Fernando’s stumps on his knees but his throw missed by a mile.   Fernando lofted the next ball over long on for a one bounce four to bring up his seventh ODI fifty from 57 balls.

He got a thick outside edge to Shannon Gabriel  and the ball flew through the vacant slip area to the boundary.  In Gabriel’s next over Fernando uppercut a loose ball to the third mean boundary.

He shared in two partnerships in Sri Lanka’s they may have been modest but partnerships in their middle order have been lacking in this World Cup and that’s why Sri Lanka have struggled.

Mathews added: “It was a brilliant knock against their attack.  He looks like he has a lot of time.”

Mathews who has struggled for runs apart from his 85 against England hit 28 in his partnership of 58 in only eight overs with Fernando.  Mathews drilled Holder to the extra cover boundary for the shot of the day as he gave Pooran on the cover boundary no chance of stopping it even though he was only a few yards from it.

Mathews lofted Allen over the long off boundary for a six with just enough height to evade Cottrell on the long off boundary. He was eventually bowled by a yorker from Holder.

Mathews replaced Mendis who had added 85 in 13 overs with Fernando and it was this partnership which knocked the stuffing out of the West Indies.  Mendis was faultless in his knock and looked odds on to reach his century when he smacked a low full toss from Allen who leapt to his right to take a spectacular return catch.

Fernando came in at the fall of of the first wicket in the 16th over when skipper Dimuth Karunarthne top edged a cut and Shai Hope took the catch.   It was Karunarathne and Perera’s third fifty partnership in this tournament. Partnerships at the top of the order in this tournament have not been a problem for Sri Lanka but this opening partnership was nearly broken early on when Karunarathne nearly chopped on to Cottrell but he reacted quickly to knock the ball away.  

Their partnership had another slice of good fortune when drove Holder through extra cover and set off for a single, but Perera didn’t respond as Karunarthne turned back Hetmyer  at short extra cover dove over the ball and their was an easy single. Holder did get the breakthrough

Perera quickly dominated his opening partnership with Karunarthne,  he clipped Gabriel twice off his legs to fine leg boundary the first was a lot finer.  Perera dabbed Holder on the legside for a single to bring up his fifty off 38 balls with seven fours. He was busy cutting and driving the West Indies.

He pulled Holder  but Pooran coming in from the square leg boundary and moving to his left dropped a dolly. The heads of the West Indies fielders went down not as a result of that drop but also they couldn’t stem the runs.  But their heads were up again in the next over when they got their second wicket as Perera played Brathwaite on the legside, the ball was fielded by Cottrell but Perera wanted two and was run out by a mile.

Fernando was the last wicket to fall in the 48th over when he drove Cottrell to long off, how Holder must have regretted his decision to review a leg before appeal against Fernando which was turned down.

Lahiru Thirimanne who was unbeaten on 45 got off the mark with a thick outside edge off Holder which just evaded the outstretched right  hand of Gayle at a 2 ½ slip. In his 20’s he thought he was out when he was caught off a big no ball from Thomas but Thirimanne didn’t hear the call or see the signal and set off back to the hutch until he was  told to go back. In the next over he walloped Gabriel to the long on boundary and lofted the next ball over Holder’s head at mid off to the long off boundary.

In their chase  the West Indies chase they lost their first wicket in the third over when Abris top edged an attempted pull off Lasith Malinga and stumper Perera took a comfortable catch.  Two overs later the West Indies were two down when Hope chased a wide delivery from Malinga with an angled bat and played on.

Thirimanne almost caught Chris  Gayle at square leg when he turned Malinga off his legs but  Thirimanne could only get his fingertips to it.

After hitting Rajitha for a six over long on  Gayle edged a drive and Jeffrey Vandersay had to wait an age for the ball to drop to him.    

Shimron Hetmyer who was dropped on three by Kusal Medis at slip when he edged a drive off Malinga was run out by a direct hit from substitute Jeewan Mendis at backward point.  Hetmyer set off for a single and so did Pooran who stopped and sent Hetmyer back but he was never in the frame.

Pooran pulled the leg spinner Vandersay to the square leg boundary to bring up the fifty partnership with Holder. Throughout the partnership the main difference between the two sides came to the fore. The Sri Lankan fielding had a lot more energy about it than the West Indies did.  

Despite the fifty partnership Holder got frustrated and was in two minds whether to drive Vandersay or loft him to long on boundary so he gently gave catching practice to substitute Jeewan Mendis at mid on.

Pooran smashed Isuru Udana straight back to Udana and the ball riochated on to the stumps with Brathwaite, who had backed up a mile out.  He pulled De Silva for a big six over mid wicket to bring up the West Indies 250. After two dot balls he undercut the fifth ball behind the wicket keeper to the boundary.

He glanced Udana off his legs and it certain to be caught by Thirimanne at short fine leg but it went through his hands to the boundary.  A straight six by Allen off Rajitha brought up his 50 from 30 balls

Pooran  got a couple to bring up his first ODI century from 92 balls   Pooran helped a short ball from Udana for a six. He lofted Malinga straight to Thisara Perera but he was five yards in from the boundary and it went through his hands for a four.

He clubbed Udana to mid wicket boundary.

West Indies skipper Holder said: “We’ve had a few close games we just can’t get over the line.  We didn’t field particularly well and we gave them 30 runs in the field. We just kept losing wickets at crucial stages. I wanted the guys not to leave anything on the field.”


July 2, 2019 9:10 am

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