For West Indies, the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup bears resemblance to a tale of tragedy. In the game against New Zealand, they were down and out but Carlos Brathwaite’s maiden ton gave them a license to dream. However, Trent Boult and a few inches of rope ensured West Indies lost the match by five runs. Against Sri Lanka, their chase was all but done when Lasith Malinga got two early wickets and Chris Gayle fell to Kasun Rajitha. However, Nicholas Pooran showed the flair West Indies possessed for the future and Fabian Allen ensured the game was not dead. Pooran blasted his maiden ton and Allen his maiden fifty. The partnership put West Indies on course but a disastrous run-out of Allen tilted the balance. The game was sealed when Angelo Mathews, bowling after 18 months, got Pooran out for 118 and Sri Lanka won by 23 runs against West Indies in the clash at Durham on Monday.
Sri Lanka’s total of 337 was set-up by a fine hundred from another young Turk in Avishka Fernando who slammed his maiden ton. West Indies started off in disastrous fashion when Sunil Ambris and Shai Hope were cleaned up by Malinga in a fiery opening spell. Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer hung in there, with both being dropped in the same over bowled by Malinga.
Hetmyer and Gayle slowly began the rebuilding stage and the Universe Boss seemed in fine touch with two sixes off Rajitha but in attempting a big slog, he top-edged the bowler and Jeffrey Vandersay took a fine catch. When Hetmyer was run-out by a direct throw from Dhananjaya de Silva, it seemed the game was up. However, Sri Lanka allowed West Indies back in the game with some sloppy bowling. Holder and Pooran found the boundary on a regular basis.
Holder perished the in the quest for aggression but Pooran showed his class by hammering a four and six off Rajitha. When Carlos Brathwaite was run-out for backing too far, West Indies were in a do-or-die situation. Allen joined Pooran and the dup negotiated the bowling well. Allen managed to figure out Malinga’s variations with a couple of fours. With the partnership building, Sri Lanka felt the pressure in the death overs. Pooran hit a six and four off Dhananjaya de Silva while Allen hit Isuru Udana for a couple of boundaries.
When Allen fell, Pooran neared his century with a six off Udana but once he fell, West Indies ended up just short of Sri Lanka’s highest total in the 2019 World Cup, made possible by Fernando’s brilliance.
West Indies inserted Sri Lanka in and immediately, they were undone by a good start from Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera. Karunaratne got going with three boundaries while Kusal smashed a hat-trick of fours in one over bowled by Shannon Gabriel. Kusal continued to target Gabriel with three more fours as the partnership neared 100. However, Holder broke the stand when Karunaratne toe-ended a short and wide ball to Hope.
Kusal Perera notched up his fifty but he was run-out due to some sloppy running for 64. However, Kusal Mendis joined Fernando and the duo went about building a good score. Both batsmen built a solid stand but Mendis was undone by a fabulous catch by Allen to his right off his own bowling.
Fernando gained in confidence and Mathews showed his intent with a six and four off Allen but when Holder got him out for 26, West Indies sensed a comeback. Lahiru Thirimanne started off in blazing fashion while Fernando was dismissed off a no-ball from Oshane Thomas. Fernando helped Sri Lanka get past 300 and also registered his maiden century to signal the arrival of a new star in world cricket.
Sri Lanka will play India in their final game in Leeds and would be aiming to end the tournament on a high while West Indies square off in a dead-rubber against Afghanistan on July 4 in Leeds.