A fine 156-run stand between Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne helped Sri Lanka seal the three-match One-Day International series against the West Indies 2-0. The home side eased to an eight-wicket win by the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-hit second ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Wednesday (November 4).
Perera narrowly missed out on a century, but his collaboration for the second wicket with Thirimanne (81) over 26.1 overs was a match-winning one in Sri Lanka’s chase of a revised target of 225 in a game reduced to 38 overs a side.
At one stage in the match, the West Indies was in a decent position at 149 for 4 in 27 overs. When play resumed after a three-hour rain break, it lost momentum and could manage no more than 214 in 37.4 overs.
Two things have hurt the West Indies in the first two games: a brisk start from Sri Lanka and losing wickets in a cluster.
If in the first game it was Tillakaratne Dilshan who ensured his side began well, on Wednesday, it was Perera’s turn to give the team a solid start after Dilshan’s promising 17 off 13 was cut short by Sunil Narine in the first ball he bowled in the fifth over.
However, there was not much respite for the West Indies bowlers after that. With the scorecard reading 40 for 1 in 4.1 overs, Thirimanne was more than happy to play second fiddle to Perera.
The West Indies had a chance to pull back in the 20th over when Perera pulled a short ball from Ravi Rampaul to Jermaine Blackwood at midwicket. But, Blackwood, running back, spilled a simple catch and palmed the ball for a six.
There was no looking back from there as Perera and Thirimanne matched each other stroke for stroke, going on to post the highest partnership for the second wicket for Sri Lanka against the West Indies. While Perera employed muscular pulls and fierce cuts, there were plenty of pleasing drives in Thirimanne’s 95-ball stay.
Perera cramped up badly towards the end and was struggling to time his shots on a slow surface. When Jonathan Carter kept him on 99 for two deliveries, the decibel levels went up. The batsman tried to pull a long-hop from Rampaul, but ended up lobbing an easy catch to Carlos Brathwaite, who accepted it with glee at short fine-leg.
Perera was crestfallen at becoming the fifth Sri Lankan batsman to be dismissed on 99 in ODIs, but his innings had put Sri Lanka in a good position, especially with the damp outfield hampering West Indies’ chances as bowlers struggled to grip the wet ball.
Earlier in the day, Johnson Charles top-scored with 83 to steer the West Indies to a fighting total. Samuels – standing in as captain in the absence of Jason Holder – chipped in with a quick-fire 61-ball 63 before being run out in the penultimate over.
Charles, who opened the batting, hit four sixes and seven fours in his entertaining 70-ball knock.
The West Indies was off to a wobbly start with Andre Fletcher falling to Lasith Malinga (2 for 43) off the first ball he faced in the game. Jermaine Blackwood (9), making his one-day debut, also departed early, but Charles steadied the innings with a brisk 70-run stand with Darren Bravo (21) for the fourth wicket. He raced to his fourth one-day half-century with a paddle-swept boundary followed by a massive six over the long-on fence, Ajantha Mendis being the unlucky bowler.
Just when Charles looked set for a bigger score, he was trapped leg before by Milinda Siriwardana, the left-arm spinner, who took 2 for 27.
Then, Samuels’s dismissal triggered a batting collapse with three more run-outs in quick succession, as the West Indies was bundled out in 37.4 overs.
The third and final one-dayer will be played on Saturday followed by two Twenty20 Internationals. Sri Lanka won the preceding Test series 2-0.