West Indies needed just nine runs off five balls with Fabian Allen was standing at the crease. It was a nail-biting moment as Allen (37 off 15 deliveries) was in tremendous form after hitting three sixes and two fours. He was visitors’ last hope of winning in the death overs. The bowling all-rounder then looked eager to strike a huge six and unfortunately, he was caught at deep midwicket by the fielder riding the boundary line off Angelo Mathews' delivery.
With this wicket, West Indies’ hope came to an end and the tourists had to face a six runs defeat in the match and a 0-3 whitewash in the three-match ODI series at the hands of the hosts at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Sunday (March 1).
With extravagant drives, Shai Hope (72) and Sunil Ambris (60) provided West Indies a solid foundation for the run-chase by stitching a 111-run partnership for the first wicket.
Hope hammered six dazzling fours, while Ambris banged six fours and a six over long-on, which was a real kick in the teeth for Udana.
Sri Lanka bowlers were struggling for the wicket, and they finally found the breakthrough in the 19th over, with Hasaranga made the initial incision with Ambris departure, leaving West Indies 111 for 1.
Hope continued his raging form and even started piling pressure on Sri Lankan bowlers. However, Udana finally found the much-needed wicket of Hope.
But that was not enough, as Nicholas Pooran (50) started troubling the Sri Lankan bowler and so the skipper Kieron Pollard (49), who handled the crease after Pooran’s departure. Pollard’s dismissal tilted the balance in Sri Lanka’s favour. Angelo Mathews, who did not take any wicket in the first game and took a single wicket in the second game, stole the show this time by grabbing four wickets for the hosts and was also adjudged Man of the Match.
Earlier, Sri Lanka batsmen displayed a terrific show as they posted a 307-run target for the visitors. The Islanders got off to a solid start, with Avishka Fernando looked in magnificent form slamming West Indies’ pacers Jason Holder and Sheldon Cottrell to the boundary boards.
However, the expensive Cottrell in the last two matches, this time seemed to begin with intent and didn’t allow both the in-form openers- Avishka and Dimuth Karunaratne to score a single run. Even in the first two overs, Sri Lankan openers could not open their own account, except the three extras they got in the second over off Holder.
Avishka’s show began from the third over and then he banged five brilliant boundaries and started thumping the pace duo of West Indies.
The hosts put 60 runs in the power play, but in the very next over, West Indies got the key breakthrough with Alzarri Joseph bowled one down the leg and Fernando could get a thin edge to the keeper. The wicket left Sri Lanka 60/1 after the powerplay. This was for the first time, Avishka got out for less than 50 runs in the series.
Skipper Karunaratne then came to the fore and added a few more runs to his tally and scored 44 runs with the help of five dazzling boundaries. He needed 6 more runs to score his sixth ODI half-century, but soon Roston Chase picked him up, leaving Sri Lanka 88/2 in 19th over.
With sweeps and pulls, Kusal Perera (44) and Kusal Mendis (55) assisted Sri Lanka to cross the 150-run mark. However, the hosts’ aim to build a massive score came to an end, when, West Indies’ captain Kieron Pollard dismissed Perera (44) with a cutter.
This was not the first time, but in the previous over, Pollard had bothered the southpaw with the off-cutter.
After the fall of the third wicket, Joseph claimed his second wicket of the day, dismissing Mendis. Sri Lanka were184 for 4 in 33 overs and the visitors would have hoped to continue the hostile attack to restrict Sri Lanka scoring a big total, but it could not work as Dhananjaya de Silva blasted the fifth ODI half-century of his career, crunching a few through covers for Sri Lanka, who were 278 for 5 in the 46th over. However, the right-handed batsman soon went back to the pavilion off Joseph's delivery. Thisara Perera stitched a 64-run partnership with Dhananjaya for the sixth wicket. Joseph’s very next target was Perera, who struck the pacer to the long-off boundary. Finally, Joseph dismissed Perera in his final over. Joseph took the most wickets 4 for the tourists in the game.
Sri Lanka batsman did not stop here as they continued their fireworks to help West Indies score 307 runs.
Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat first. The hosts' side didn't go for any changes, while Hayden Walsh replaced Keemo Paul on the Caribbean side.