Sri Lanka beat West Indies by 39 runs, stay in contention

Sri Lanka beat West Indies by 39 runs, stay in contention

Kumar Sangakkara cracked a superb 90 and Angelo Mathews returned with a four-wicket haul as Sri Lanka notched up a comprehensive 39-run victory over West Indies via  in their crucial rain-affected ODI match of the tri-nation series here.

Sangakkara played a superb 95-ball unconquered innings, which was studded with six fours and one six, to help Sri Lanka post 219 for eight in the match, which was reduced to 41-overs a side after two rain interruptions last night.

Kemar Roach returned with an economical four-wicket haul but rest of the West Indies bowlers could not stop the run flow as Sri Lanka scored 159 in 22 overs after struggling at 60 for three in 19 overs on Sunday.

The visitors then returned to restrict West Indies to 190 in 41 overs, despite two fighting half-century by Lendl Simmons (67) and Darren Bravo (70), to keep themselves afloat for a place in the finals.

West Indies were set a revised target of 230 in 41 overs on the basis of Duckworth/Lewis scoring method but their runchase was derailed by the early top-order collapse which left them at 31 for four in 8.2 overs.

Shaminda Eranga and Lasith Malinga picked up three and two wickets each to contribute in Sri Lanka's win though West Indies did well to deny them a bonus point atleast.

With this win, Sri Lanka bagged four crucial points to move to nine points from three matches but they are still not through to the finals as West Indies, despite the lose, too are on nine points from four games.

All eyes will now be on India's crucial ODI against Sri Lanka today as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men not only have to beat Sri Lanka but also win big, considering that bonus points and net runrate will come into the calculation.

Earlier, Sangakkara ensured that Sri Lanka have a good score on board as he set the foundation early on and then accelerated in the end, despite losing partners at regular intervals.

Mathews (30) and Lahiru Thirimanne (23) were the other contributors for Sri Lanka in the match which was pushed to the reserve day after rain forced officials to call off the game yesterday.

Defending 230, Lankan bowler Mathews stuck the first blow when he had the dangerous Chris Gayle (14) caught at deep point, while pacer Eranga dismissed other opener Johnson Charles (14) and Marlon Samuels (0) in his third over.

In the next five overs, Bravo and Simmons could only score five runs as Lahiru Thirimanne and Sachithra Senanayake bowled in tandem.

With the required run-rate going up, Simmons finally tried to break the shackles as he lofted Senanayake over wide long-on for a much-needed boundary.

Simmons along with Bravo slowly started to dominate the proceedings and dealt in boundaries to ease the pressure. Simmons hit Thirimanne for a four and then smashed Mathews for a six in the 27th over.

Bravo too sent Mendis over midwicket and then picked up a couple of boundaries off Lasith Malinga.

In the 29th over, Simmons picked Eranga for special treatment as he clubbed a six and a four off the pacer. He blasted Senanayake for another big hit in the next over and then flicked a low full toss from Malinga across the short fine leg boundary.

In the 32nd over, Simmons once again took Eranga to the cleaners as he picked up fours at the extra cover and third man region but the pacer came back strongly when the batsman was holed out by Thirimanne at deep cover.

Malinga then dismissed Kieron Pollard in the next over as West Indies suddenly slipped to 156 for six in 32.4 overs and once Darren Sammy (3) and Bravo (70) fell in the 37th and 38th over it was all but over for the hosts.

Earlier, resuming the innings at 60-3 in 19 overs, Sri Lanka made a brisk start as batsmen Sangakkara and Thirimanne picked up ones and twos.

Sangakkara brought up the first boundary of the day when he danced down the wicket to Darren Sammy and got the ball past the bowler in the 22rd over. He brought up another four in the 25th over when he cut a short and wide delivery from Sammy across the fence.
However, West Indies struck in the next over with spinner Samuels dismissing Thirimanne. The Sri Lankan failed to read Samuels' quicker delivery as it hit the inside edge and disturbed the stumps.

That brought Lankan skipper Mathews to the crease and after four dot balls he brought up the first six of the innings in the 28th over when he suddenly went across and down on his knee and swept Samuels over square leg.

Matthews managed another boundary of Samuels in the 32nd over when the ball hitting the bottom edge raced away to the fence, giving wicketkeeper and short third man a tough time.

With Sri Lanka at 122 for four in 32 overs, heavy showers once again interrupted the game. The interruption further reduced the match to a 41-over a side affair after a rainy morning had earlier curtailed the game to a 45-over business.

With just nine overs to play, Matthews decided to go after the bowling after resumption and blasted Holder over mid-off for a four, before sending Samuels out of the park over long-on in the 34th over.

Sri Lanka then took their two-over Powerplay but Roach soon picked up two wickets to reduce the visitors to 147 for six in 35 overs. In his first delivery, Roach had Mathews at point after he backed away a long way in pursuit of a big shot and failed to connect properly.

New man Jeevan Mendis blasted two fours in the third and fifth ball but Roach had the last laugh as he had him caught by wicketkeeper Johnson Charles in his last ball although it was a controversial decision.

Sangakkara then stepped on the gas and plundered Holder across the third man for a four, while newman Nuwan Kulasekara sent one over deep midwicket for a six.

After the powerplay was over, Sangakkara continued his blitzkrieg, as he first clubbed a six in the first delivery of Tino Best's over and then picked up a four in the next ball.

Kulasekara picked up another four over cover area off Samuels in the next over, while Sangakkara brought up a lucky boundary when his outside edge bisected the keeper and short third man in the 39th over.

In the 40th over, Holder dismissed Kulasekara (14) when he had him caught by Bravo at long-on. However, Sangakkara stayed till the end and took Sri Lanka to 219 in the end.
Besides Roach (4 for 27), Jason Holder (2 for 50), Marlon Samuels (1 for 48) and Kieron Pollard (1 for 24) also got wickets but they were expensive.

Yesterday, riding on Roach's two quick wickets, West Indies had reduced Sri Lanka to 60 for three in 19 overs when heavens opened up and interrupted the play. With rain refusing to abate, the play was called off for the day and it was pushed to the reserve day.

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