West Indies warmed up for the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 with a nervy 17-run victory over Sri Lanka in the second and final practice match at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Tuesday (June 4).
The victory was fashioned by Johnson Charles (58) and Darren Bravo (71) who laid the foundation for an imposing 297 for 6. Faced with a daunting target, Sri Lanka’s top-order couldn’t quite replicate its batting performance against India, as the team was reduced to 132 for 5 at one stage before the lower order chipped in. In the end, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 280 in 47 overs.
Earlier, the West Indies openers made Sri Lanka rue its decision to field first. It isn’t often that Chris Gayle plays second fiddle, but that is exactly what his role was as Charles took a liking to the Sri Lankan seamers. The openers put on 87 in just 12.1 overs to set the stage for the middle-order batsmen to cash in. Charles smashed nine boundaries in his 50-ball 58, while Darren Bravo, who top-scored with 86 in the game against Australia, batted in a more sedate manner even as the others built their innings around him.
Ramnaresh Sarwan struck form at the right time, stroking 55 before retiring out, but the final flourish came from Kieron Pollard, who smashed an unbeaten 29 to take West Indies to an imposing total.
Sri Lanka’s new ball bowlers – Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara – had an off day, conceding 135 runs in 17 overs for one wicket, while the slower bowlers fared much better. Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner, was the best of the lot with figures of 2 for 38 in 7 overs.
Sri Lanka needed an opening partnership of substance and once that didn’t happen, it put a lot of pressure on the middle order. Mahela Jayawardene stroked 29 before being run out. While Sangakkara batted till the 32nd over in his quest to mount a late charge, losing wickets regularly at the other end meant he had to curb his game.
Kulasekara and Dilhara Lokuhettige, the allrounder, added 73 runs in 55 balls for the ninth wicket after Sri Lanka was reduced to 196 for 8 in the 36th over. Lokuhettige, who has the reputation of being a clean striker of the ball, made a 29-ball 42 to boost Sri Lanka’s hopes before Dwayne Bravo took the last two wickets to seal the win. Kulasekara, finished 40 not out in the end.
While West Indies had a 1-1 win-loss record going into their tournament opener against Pakistan in Cardiff on June 7, Sri Lanka, who lost both their warm-up games, have some work to do before they square off against New Zealand in their opening fixture on June 9.