SRI LANKA, CMC – All-rounder Fabian Allen’s late cameo almost did the trick but luckless West Indies failed in their bid to avoid a second successive whitewash on Sri Lankan soil when they suffered a narrow six-run defeat in a nerve-wracking final One-Day International on Sunday.
Chasing a difficult 308 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, West Indies produced a spirited run chase but lost key wickets inside the last three overs to watch their challenge peter out tamely to end on 301 for nine – the highest-ever losing total at the venue.
They required 13 from the final over and number seven Allen lifted the first delivery from medium pacer Angelo Mathews to the cover boundary, to turn the game in the Caribbean side’s favour.
Off the very next ball, however, Allen holed out on the ropes at mid-wicket to bring an end to an extraordinary 15-ball 37, and Mathews conceded a single run from the remaining deliveries to hand Sri Lanka an emphatic 3-0 cleansweep.
Five years ago, Jason Holder’s side suffered a similar 3-0 thrashing and Sunday’s result extended the Windies’ unenviable record of having won only a single ODI in Sri Lanka in 12 appearances.
Shai Hope had earlier top-scored with 72 off 88 deliveries while opening partner Sunil Ambris blasted a run-a-ball 60 as West Indies made a gallant start to their chase.
Left-hander Nicholas Pooran gathered a measured 50 alongside captain Kieron Pollard who made 49 from 50 deliveries but the disastrous run out of Darren Bravo for eight in the 44th over, saw West Indies lose six wickets for 59 runs.
Mathews, adjudged Man-of-the-Match, snatched four for 59 including the key wickets for Pollard and Pooran.
Sri Lanka’s total of 307 all out off their 50 overs was premised on half-centuries from Kusal Mendis (55) and Dhananjaya de Silva (51) while Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera both struck 44 and Thisara Perera, 38.
Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who grabbed two important wickets inside the last four overs, spearheaded the Windies attack with four for 65.
Choosing to bat, Sri Lanka were propelled largely by three half-century stands. Karunaratne, who counted five fours off 54 balls, put on 60 for the first wicket with Avishka Fernando who made 29 from 34 deliveries before feathering a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Hope off a wayward delivery from Joseph in the 11th over.
When Karunaratne tapped a return catch to off-spinner Roston Chase in the 20th over, Sri Lanka were 88 for two but Kusal and Mendis put on 89 for the third wicket to frustrate the Windies.
Mendis faced 48 balls and struck six fours and a six while Kusal Perera notched four fours in a 55-ball knock before both perished as three wickets went down for 37 runs.
Needing a spark at 214 for five in the 39th over, Sri Lanka got it in the form of a 64-run, sixth wicket stand between de Silva, who stroked five fours off 47 balls and Thisara Perera, who faced 31 deliveries and struck two fours.
Hope and Ambris then posted 111 for the first wicket as West Indies flourished early on to keep pace with the required run rate.
Ambris, short of runs in the series, hit half-dozen fours and a six but was the first to fall, deceived by a Wanindu Hasaranga googly and bowled in the 19th over, giving himself room.
Pooran, promoted to number three, then added 60 for the second wicket with Hope and a further 47 for the third with Pollard, West Indies reaching 147 for one at the half-way stage of the innings.
Hope had faced 88 deliveries and struck six fours when he clipped left-arm seamer Isuru Usana to short mid-wicket in the 31st over and Pooran followed in the 40th, picking out cover with Mathews.
A few overs later, an upset Bravo was run out in a mix-up with Pollard over a leg bye and the Windies captain followed in the 46th over after belting six fours and a six, skying Mathews for Udana to snare the catch running in from short mid-wicket.
Jason Holder chanced his arm and was caught in the deep off Mathews, Hayden Walsh (2) and Roston Chase (0) were both run out and Allen smote two fours and three sixes before also perishing with victory a distinct possibility.