Sri Lanka survived a middle-order collapse to ace a 290 run chase in a closely-contested opening game of the three-match ODI series against West Indies here at the SSC grounds in Colombo on Saturday.
After conceding 289 runs, the hosts needed an extraordinary effort with the bat to chase down a historic total (highest successful chase was 286) at the popular Test venue and they were given an electrifying start by the openers, sharing 111 runs in as many as 108 balls.
But their dismissals in quick succession pegged Sri Lanka back before allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga shouldered the burden of taking his team over the line. There were useful contributions with the bat from Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis and Thisara Perera after both openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Avishka Fernando hit half-centuries. Had it not been for a scintillating effort from Hasaranga, however, Sri Lanka would have ended on the losing side.
The match went to the wire, with the home team even losing their ninth wicket when the scores were tied on 289. Lakshan Sandakan, who was running for the winning run, was well short of the crease when a direct hit smashed the wicket. But, with a single run to win off five balls, the match was now in Sri Lanka’s favour. Hasaranga has been a revelation in recent months, receiving accolades from his peers and coaching staff. He deserved credit for holding his nerve under tremendous pressure to take Sri Lanka over the line.
The West Indians did exceptionally well with the bat but will rue their bowling and ground fielding which made the difference between the two sides at the end. They conceded as many as 26 extras, including 14 wides and 11 leg-bys as opposed to Sri Lanka’s seven extras.
To say that Sri Lanka was brilliant in the field was not an overstatement. They fielded with new found energy, complimenting their bowlers well, but that did not stop West Indies from setting a formidable total after being put on to bat first.
Shai Hope anchored the innings after being survived on naught (he was give leg before off Nuwan Pradeep but this was later turned down as the ball was missing the leg). He reached his ninth ODI century before Keemo Paul and Hayden Walsh Jr shared a quick-fire 49 off 20 balls to propel them to 289 for 7.
No side has successfully chased more than 286 to win at the venue. West Indies certainly had the edge to begin their campaign on a high. But the hosts, despite a middle-order collapse (a familiar sight over the years) held their nerve to go one-up in the series. They shone on the field till the 40th over, keeping the visitors under 200 runs for the loss of six wickets.
It was a sudden burst in the final ten overs that put the tourists on top. Known for their aggressive batting style, West Indies unleashed their fury, adding 94 runs in last ten overs with Paul and Walsh Jr making most of the damage in their brisk partnership.
Sri Lanka twice inflicted run-outs, taking advantage of miscommunication between batsmen. The bowling, particularly of Nuwan Pradeep and Thisara Perera, was impressive. It hardly offering any width for the free-scoring West Indians to free their arms. This was not the case with their two wrist-spinners, Wanindu Hasaranga and Lakshan Sandakan, who made no impact on the middle orders. Isuru Udana may have taken three wickets including that of centurion Hope but it came at a huge cost of 82 runs, largely contributing to the West Indies imposing total.
Hope was not an aggressive accumulator of runs but was steady, slowly laying the base his team needed. In his 115 off 140 balls, he shared 77 runs for the second wicket with Darren Bravo and a further 85 with Roston Chase. This was what allowed them to burst in the final overs to put the pressure back on the Lankans.
Brief scores: West Indies 289/7 in 50 overs (Shai Hope 115, Roston Chase 41; Isuru Udana 3-82) lost to Sri Lanka 290/9 in 49.1 overs (Dimuth Karunaratne 52, Avishka Fernando 50, Wanindu Hasaranga 42*; Alzarri Joseph 3-42) by 1 wicket.
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