Dubai: If one thought the dead-rubber between Sri Lanka and West Indies would be a dull encounter, it’s a big no. You are mistaken. It was a high-scoring thriller and the match could have gone either way until the end.
The turning point came in the 48th over of West Indies chase. Needing 30 off three overs, Angelo Mathews turned his arm for the first time in 18 months to complete the final overs as Sri Lanka’s main bowlers, excepting Lasith Malinga, had completed their quota. He immediately struck the decisive blow, dismissing the dangerous Nicholas Pooran off the first ball and completed the over giving away just three runs.
It was a day that belonged to the young and the old. Young Pooran took the onus upon himself to lead the West Indies fight back after another veteran Lasith Malinga once again proved how dangerous he could be on his day.
The pacer broke the West Indies back early in the innings as they embarked on a record chase of 338 for a win. The talented left-hander Pooran notched up his maiden century and added priceless 83-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Fabian Allen to bring the Caribbeans close to the target, but his brave knock went in vain and had to leave the field with an unfinished job.
Another youngster Avishka Fernando, who showed plenty of promise during his knock against South Africa in the previous game, lived up to his reputation as one of Sri Lanka’s future stars. His timely century enabled the Islanders to salvage some pride despite their campaign coming to an end with England’s win over India on Sunday.
Both teams showed a good turn around in their fortunes, but it is coming in a wee bit late in the day for both as they missed their bus to the next stage. West Indies will be left wondering how to go past the winning line after coming close on several occasions during the showpiece and falling in the final hurdle on the home stretch.
They are guilty of not playing total cricket on many an occasion. If they had produced a clinical effort, like they had done against Pakistan in the opener, West Indies would now be fighting for one of the four semi-final spots. But they have been throwing away their wickets against the run of play on several crucial moments, that has come to bite them towards the end of the game.