It’s around this time in a World Cup that teams whose campaigns haven’t turned out too well start to consider the future. With both West Indies and Sri Lanka both out of contention for further honors in this World Cup, it was left to two of the brightest young talents in each team to light up the dead rubber and provide a little hope that the next time might not be so bad.
Nicholas Pooran’s maiden ODI century went in vain as Sri Lanka beat the West Indies by 23 runs on Monday. West Indies got off to a poor start as they lost Sunil Ambris and Shai Hope cheaply. Chris Gayle once again failed to put on his show and got out trying to go after the bowler. Nicholas Pooran batted positively from one end but the wickets kept falling from the other end. He got support in Fabien Allen who complimented him from the other end. Allen completed his maiden ODI century while Pooran scored his maiden ODI ton. A mix-up between the two batsmen resulted in an unfortunate runout. Sensing the game is slipping away, Sri Lanka brought former skipper Angelo Mathews into the attack and he dismissed Pooran on his first ball which turned out to be the biggest turning point in the match. Earlier, Sri Lanka posted a mammoth total of 338/6 in 50 overs against West Indies at Riverside Ground in Durham on Monday. Avishka Fernando scored his maiden hundred, which powered Sri Lanka to their highest total of World Cup 2019. He smashed 104 runs off 103 balls with the help of nine fours and two sixes. After being invited to bat by the West Indies, Sri Lanka got off to a terrific start as openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera stitched a 93-run partnership for the first wicket. Kusal Perera hit 64 runs off 51 balls, including eight boundaries. Efforts of Kusal Mendis (39), Dimuth Karunaratne (32) and Lahiru Thirimanne (45*) also added to Sri Lanka’s total. For West Indies, skipper Jason Holder was the leading wicket-taker with two wickets. Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, and Fabian Allen claimed one wicket apiece.
That was a good contest, wasn’t it? Never mind the dead rubber status of the game, everyone loves a proper game of cricket that’s fought hard. With the expectations of a semifinal spot out of their way, both Sri Lanka and West Indies played with more freedom to entertain us thoroughly. The next stop is Edgbaston again, as Bangladesh and India get ready to face off tomorrow in a crucial encounter. The former needs a win to stay alive while their opponents require a victory to officially enter into the knockouts. It’s going to be the same surface that was used for the England-India game, so we could have a low-scoring thriller perhaps. All that for tomorrow though. It’s time to sign off for the day.
Dimuth Karunaratne: Good win for us, gives us a lot of confidence. Players stood up at vital times and that’s what I’m expecting as a captain. I think we were putting pressure on ourselves (before today’s game) and weren’t expressing properly. Today, we did that and the middle order batted well. Avishka was really good in his innings. We knew that they are a good six-hitting side and wanted to keep the pressure on and increase the required rate slowly. Pooran was playing really well. (On making Mathews bowl) Thing is that we had to get those two overs done. He put his hand up and said that he’ll bowl the overs. He did a fantastic job and that’s what I am expecting as a captain. Don’t think he’ll bowl too many but if needed, certainly he may chip in with a couple of overs.
Jason Holder: Probably, a bit slow off the blocks. Sloppy on the field and gave away a few extra runs. In a format like this, these things matter. You’ve got to be better than that. I thought it was above-par. Was a free-scoring wicket, was a bit slow but still was a good track for strokeplay. Fernando played well early on and Pooran also played well. Just needed to spend some time in the middle and it got easier. I thought we pulled things back well at the end but our fielding gave them 30-40 runs extra. We were always backing ourselves to get across the line. Got into a really good position but then threw it away. That run out was crucial, as was Pooran’s wicket. Maybe we could have taken it deeper. Definitely promising (to see talents like Pooran emerging) to see them play such fearless cricket. Just need to win (the final game) and end on a high.
Avishka Fernando: Man of the Match: When I went in to bat, I am happy I did what was required of me. I am happy that the hundred was in a winning effort. They bowled really well for us. I am really happy that I got these opportunities and I have made use of them, and I will use them to take my game forward and developing my game for my country and my team. (Translated by Kumar Sangakkara from Sinhalese)