Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka opener Tillakaratne Dilshan hammered a quickfire 59 to lead his side to a one-wicket win over West Indies in a rain-affected showdown in Colombo.
Dilshan was well supported by pace bowler Suranga Lakmal, who took three wickets from his five overs, while only conceding 15 runs.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews would have been delighted with his decision to bowl first as Lakmal ripped through the West Indies’ top order, dismissing Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher and Marlon Samuels.
However, shortly after Samuels was back in the pavilion, the heavens parted and the players were ushered off the field.
Following a lengthy delay, during which it was confirmed that the match would be reduced to 26 overs per side, the West Indies lost Jonathan Carter for eight runs.
However, Andre Russell and Darren Bravo amassed a 58-run partnership to give the West Indian innings a much-needed spark before Russell’s masterclass on power hitting came to an end when he was caught by debutant Danushka Gunathilaka at long-off off the bowling of Mathews for 41.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Bravo ended up making 38 and skipper Jason Holder chipped in with 36 as the West Indies finished on 159/8 off their 26 overs.
Lakmal was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Ajantha Mendis snapped up two and debutant Shehan Jayasuriya and Mathews chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 160 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a solid start with Dilshan scoring 59 off 32 balls, which included six boundaries and three sixes, before they began to lose wickets at regular intervals.
With the West Indies having clawed their way back into contention by slicing through Sri Lanka’s middle and lower order, Mendis and Lakmal refused to be beaten and helped Sri Lanka creep across the finish line with seven balls to spare.
Sunil Narine was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Carter and Carlos Brathwaite took two wickets apiece and Jerome Taylor claimed one.
Holder was gutted to have fallen just short of winning the match, and said: “Not too disappointed. Tough loss, coming so close in the end. Russell going off was a big loss for us. They got off to a really good start, we didn’t bowl particularly well, but credit to the way we fought back. Credit to Andre Russell, gave the impetus [after the rain break] and myself and Brathwaite carried on from that.”
Mathews was relieved to have won the match, and said: “It was a lucky escape. We made a real mess out of the game. We were cruising, and I started the collapse by playing that shot. But lesson learned. All the bowlers bowled their socks off. Suranga bowled magnificently. So did Mendo and Sachithra, but we were cruising. The bowlers have been batting a lot in the nets. In pressure situations, coming up against the best bowlers in the world, Mendo’s innings was magnificent today. Danushka batted very well, unfortunately Shehan couldn’t pull it through, but they are very talented players.”
Dilshan was named Man of the Match, and said: “It was a tricky total, we had to take a chance, and myself and Kushal set the tone in the first five overs. We both gave the momentum. They bowled a little short, I took the maximum out of that. But if they bowled full also I played the Dilscoop, so maybe they were in two minds. It was a very good pitch. After it rained, it was easier to bat.”