NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Stylish left-hander Darren Bravo stroked his first One-Day International hundred in five years to propel West Indies to a comfortable five-wicket win over Sri Lanka and a clean sweep of the three-match series on Sunday.
The 32-year-old top-scored with 102 off 132 deliveries while irrepressible opener Shai Hope struck 64 off 72 balls and captain Kieron Pollard an unbeaten 52 off 42 deliveries, as West Indies, reeled in a target of 275 at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium with nine deliveries to spare.
Bravo had previously gone 13 innings without a half-century, during which time he averaged a paltry 18, but his fourth ODI century saw him turn the page on that depressing run of form as he hit five fours and four sixes.
“I think today was an important day for me,” said Bravo after he was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
“I tried my best today. It wasn’t the most fluent but at the end of the day, we got the job done which is the most important thing,”
For the home side, the result marked their third whitewash in their last five series following similar achievements against Ireland and Afghanistan and was also payback for the 3-0 drubbing they received on Sri Lankan soil last year.
The clean sweep also follows on the heels of a chastening 3-0 result in Bangladesh last month when an inexperienced side was soundly thrashed.
“This gives us the confidence we can do certain things. We’re going to build on this … we’re looking to continue to work hard and continue to improve as we go forward,” said an obviously contented Pollard.
Number eight Wanindu Hasaranga had earlier lashed a cavalier unbeaten 80 off 60 balls and Ashen Bandara, a supportive 55 not out, to help pull Sri Lanka’s innings around to 274 for six off their 50 overs.
Sent in, the visitors had slumped to 151 for six in the 32nd over after being undermined by left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein’s three-wicket haul, before the pair put on an invaluable 123 in an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership to ensure West Indies were given a serious target to chase.
Their stand was vitally important after Sri Lanka were guilty of wasting an opening stand of 68 between in-form Danushka Gunathilaka (36) and captain Dimuth Karunaratne (31).
The left-handed Gunathilaka had stroked half-dozen fours in a 38-ball knock when he top-edged a pull at fast bowler Alzarri Joseph onto his helmet and was taken at a point in the 14th over.
Karunaratne followed with two runs added in the next over after striking one four and a six, missing a swipe at part-time off-spinner Jason Mohammed and losing his leg stump.
Pathum Nissanka then produced a breezy 24 off 25 balls in a 31-run stand for the third wicket with veteran Dinesh Chandimal (16) to get Sri Lanka up to 101 without further loss.
However, once Hosein hit Nissanka in front to earn an lbw decision in the 21st over, Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 50 runs to lose their way.
Hasaranga came to his side’s rescue, clubbing seven fours and three sixes – including three fours and a six off the final over from pacer Jason Holder – while Bandara punched three fours and a six as Sri Lanka gathered 89 runs from the last 10 overs.
For the first time in the series, West Indies went without a solid start as left-hander Evin Lewis played down the wrong line to a full-length delivery from pacer Suranga Lakmal (2-56) and was bowled for 13 in the fifth over and Jason Mohammed missed a drive at a Wanindu Hasaranga googly and was bowled for eight in the 10th.
However, Bravo then anchored the innings, posting 109 for the third wicket with Hope before adding a further 80 for the fifth wicket with Pollard.
He started slowly with only three runs from his first 13 balls and never really quickened his pace, reaching his half-century off 81 balls in the 30th over. His second fifty required only 49 balls and he brought up three figures with a boundary to fine leg off leg-spinner Hasaranga in the 45th, before perishing seven balls later, driving a Lakmal full toss to cover.
Hope, already with a hundred and a fifty in the series, counted three fours and two sixes before holing out to long-on in the 32nd over off seamer Thisara Perera.
When Nicholas Pooran missed a sweep and was lbw to part-time off-spinner Danushka Gunathilaka in the 35th-over, West Indies needed a partnership and Pollard arrived to blast four fours and a six to ensure there were no late stumbles.
SRI LANKA 274 for six off 50 overs (Wanindu Hasaranga 80 not out, Ashen Bandara 55 not out, Danushka Gunathilaka 36, Dimuth Karunaratne 31; Akeal Hosein 3-33)
WEST INDIES 276 for five off 48.3 overs (Darren Bravo 102, Shai Hope 64, Kieron Pollard 53 not out; Suranga Lakmal 2-56)