Tri-Series 2016, Sri Lanka v West Indies: Sri Lanka escapes with a thrilling 1 run victory

West Indies v Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka batsman Niroshan Dickwella is in action. (Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Evin Lewis saw his maiden ODI century go in vain as Sri Lanka snatched a rousing 1 run win from West Indies to advance to the final of the tri-nation series. This was the second instance in the series where West Indies failed to get a positive result in a match after being in a highly comfortable position.

Chasing a challenging 330 runs to win, Evin Lewis, with his match – defining 148 runs knock, ran the engine and helped West Indies come close to the win. But, Sri Lanka displayed terrific death bowling and conceded just two boundaries off the last five overs to make things tough for the chasing side.

Lewis shouldered the batting responsibility for almost throughout the innings before the momentum shifted in the opposition’s favour with his run out in the 41st over. While none of the other Windes batsmen could make any significant individual scores, Despite failing to find a single stable partner through his knock, Evin made sure that the required rate never went up to uncomfortable levels and stitched small yet important stands.

A huge credit for the win also goes to Pradeep who defended 10 off the last six ball and later three in balls to seal Sri Lanka’s passage to the final. West Indies will have bow have to beat Zimbabwe to make it to the final to fix another date with Sri Lanka in the summit clash.

Apart from Lewis’ batting show, it was the last over by Nuwan Pradeep that caused goosebumps among Sri Lankan fans. Holder took strike as West Indies dressing room hopes for the two big hits off his bat. Pradeep played it safe and speared in the trusted yorker which saw Holder getting off the strike.

The Under pressure Benn then added spice to the contest and smashed a huge six in the mid-wicket area after missing a hit in the previous delivery. The equation was reduced to just three of three but Pradeep held his nerves. He successfully swung the game again in the favour of his team by giving snapping Benn off the penultimate ball and then giving away just one run off the last ball to help his team finishes victorious.

Batting first, Sri Lanka posted a commendable total of 330/7, riding on the back of half – centuries from Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis.  While opener De Silva hit 58, No.3 and No.4 batsmen, Dickwella and Mendis fell short of their respective centuries by just six runs.

On a bright sunny day, West Indies decided to bowl first on a grassy wicket. But, Jason Holder’s idea soon proved to be a bad one as the pitch showed its true nature as the thick green cover did not help the fast bowlers in any way. Despite losing Kusal Perera for just 7 runs in the 3rdover, Sri Lanka later found it really easy to set themselves for a big score as the Windies bowlers began to err with their lines and lengths.

Gabriel bowled a fiery opening spell and with the wicket of Perera, he was high on confidence. However, a hamstring injury sent him back to the pavilion and kept him out of the field for 12 overs. He only returned to bowl in the 31st over, and by then the Sri Lankan top-order had shifted the momentum in their favour.

This sort of eased the pressure off De Silva and Dickwella who took total advantage and never looked in trouble, adding runs with ease. The run rate was on the higher side at the time the duo batted. Both resorted to a counter-attacking approach and that paid off as the pair added 105 runs for the second wicket. The partnership came to a very unexpected end when De Silva gifted a simple catch to Kraigg Brathwaite and West Indies celebrated their much-needed breakthrough.

But, Sri Lanka  had nothing to worry as Dickwella combined with Kusal Mendis to put up another century stand. The pair batted with more aggression. Dickwella was well set while Mendis crunched crisp drives to take the run rate upwards. The pair rotated the strike and found the boundary quite easily and went to add 107 runs.

But, unfortunately, Dickwella found himself trapped LBW off Jason Holder’s bowling just after the second drinks break. The left-hander did try challenging umpire Ray Illingworth’s decision and but the replays clearly indicated that the ball was crashing into leg-leg stump he had to depart for 94.

Mendis switched gears and the next few overs saw some fireworks. He was racing towards his century and smashed Nurse for two back to back sixes before he was dismissed caught behind six short of his maiden ODI exactly at the score on which Dickwella was dismissed. Upul Tharanga and Sachith Pathirana chipped in with handy knocks to take the final score to over the 300-run mark.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka: 330/7 (Kusal Mendis 94, Niroshan Dickwella 94; Jason Holder 3-57)

West Indies: 329/9 (Evin Lewis 148; Suranga Lakmal 2/67)

Man of the Match: Kusal Mendis