Sri Lanka defeated West Indies by 23 runs in a thriller at the Riverside Grounds on Monday. Nicholas Pooran’s 118 went in vain as Windies to chase down the target of 339 runs, but had they been successful it would have been the highest ever chase in World Cup history.
Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen kept the run-chase alive with their 83-stand but a mix-up in the middle forced Allen to leave the ground for 51. However, Pooran kept it close against till the very end.
Lasith Malinga got Sri Lanka their first breakthrough by removing West Indies opener Sunil Ambris (5) to get his 53rd World Cup wicket. Malinga struck again to get rid of Shai Hope (5) to leave West Indies reeling at 22.2 in 4.6 overs.
West Indies after losing two wickets pinned hopes on Chris Gayle, but Kasun Rajitha picked Chris Gayle for 35. Hetmyer was run out on 29 off 38 deliveries. Skipper Jason Holder had to depart when he mistimed his lofted shot to hand the balls to Jeevan Mendis at the mid-on while Carlos Brathwaite was run out for 8.
Earlier after being put to bat first, Avishka Fernando’s maiden hundred in a solid batting display powered Sri Lanka to an imposing 338.
Sri Lanka’s top order fired in unison with Fernando hitting a 103-ball 104, the first century for the Island nation in this world cup. His innings was studded with nine fours and two sixes. Opener Kusal Perera sent the ball eight times across the fence on the way to a 51-ball 64.
Fernando played the role of sheet anchor, stitching 85 runs with Kushal Mendis and then sharing 58 and 67 with Angelo Mathews (26) and Lahiru Thirimanne (45 off 33), respectively, as Sri Lanka went beyond 250 for the first time in the tournament.
With both teams already out of contention for a semifinal spot, Sri Lanka played with freedom as openers Karunaratne and Kusal Perera amassed 91 runs for no loss in 15 overs. After skipper Jason Holder removed Dimuth Karunaratne (32), Kushal Perera too was back after getting run out.
Kushal Mendis and Fernando then took Sri Lanka close to 200 before a remarkable caught-and-bowl effort by left-arm spinner Fabian Allen, in the 32nd over, ended the former’s stay. Mathews came up with an enterprising 20-ball 26 before a perfect yorker by Holder sent him back in the 40th over.
Fernando and Thirimanne then joined hands to help Sri Lanka cross the 300-mark. Fernando completed his hundred in the 48th over with a couple of runs off Carlos Brathwaite but soon holed out to Allen off Cottrell’s bowling.
Source : Various