Wanindu Hasaranga (42* off 39) held his nerve in the end to hand Sri Lanka a nervy one-wicket win in the first One-Day International (ODI) at Colombo (SSC) to go 1-0 up in the three-match series. However, there were vital contributions earlier especially from the openers Dimuth Karunaratne (52) and Avishka Fernando (50) who's 111-run opening wicket stand set the game up beautifully.
In pursuit of 290, Sri Lanka got off to a positive start thanks to the skipper Karunaratne and Fernando. They did not let the required run-rate raise and at the same time played some delightful strokes. They brought up their fifty in just the eighth over. They finished with 78 runs in the first powerplay without losing a wicket, which is one of Sri Lanka's best start in an ODI since 2019.
The openers brought up their 100-run stand in the 16th over, which was Sri Lanka's fourth since 2019. Karunaratne brought up his fifty in quick time and Sri Lanka were on course to a superb win. After putting on 111 for the first wicket Karunaratne was the first batsman dismissed caught behind for 52 off 57. Fernando too followed suit shortly for 50 in a similar fashion. With two new batsmen at the crease, it was time to rebuild for the hosts, and the required run-rate was still very much in control.
However, Sri Lanka from 111 for no loss found themselves at 153 for 3 in a span of nine overs. Things got from bad to worse when their most experienced player Angelo Mathews was caught behind for just 5, leaving Sri Lanka in a spot of bother. West Indies had clawed their way back into the game, while Sri Lanka needed a steady partnership. Kusal Perera had gotten off to a start by then and had Dhananjaya de Silva was at the crease along with him. De Silva's wicket for 18 further added to Sri Lanka's woes. Thisara Perera who was making a comeback into the side had the task of supporting Kusal Perera at the other end, who was batting sensibly. But he was dismissed thanks to brilliant catch in the deep by Darren Bravo for a 50-ball 42 and with that, it looked like it will be a difficult task for Sri Lanka to go over the line, but with Thisara still at the crease, the possibility of a Sri Lanka win could never be discounted.
Once he perished for a 22-ball 32, Sri Lanka's hopes faded. More so after Isuru Udana too edged one to the 'keeper for a duck. Hasaranga kept Sri Lanka in the hunt, hitting boundaries at crucial junctures, to reduce the equation to 13 off 18. However, there was further drama with one needed off the final over as Lakshan Sandakan was run-out with just one needed. But Hasaranga ensured that there was no heartbreak for Sri Lanka this time around.
Earlier, Shai Hope's ninth ODI ton, his partnerships with Bravo and Roston Chase, along with a cameo from Keemo Paul in the end took West Indies to a formidable 289 for 7. Sri Lanka leaked 94 runs in the final 10 overs, which could have eventually turned out to be pivotal.
Sri Lanka started off well. West Indies would have had their heart in their mouth when Hope, one of the best openers in ODIs of late, was given out leg before off the second delivery of the match, but was eventually overturned. But, it was Sri Lanka who drew first blood early as Thisara Perera cleaned up Sunil Ambris with a beautiful in-swinger to give the hosts an ideal start. Bravo and Hope ensured that there was no further damage in the first powerplay in which West Indies scored 31, which is their lowest score in overs 1 to 10 since 2019 after 29 scored against India at Old Trafford.
After a slow start in the first powerplay, Hope and Bravo pressed on the accelerator right after that, with Mathews being the target initially. After putting on 77 off 98 for the second wicket, Bravo was run-out at the non-striker's end after a mix-up with Hope, who initially called his partner for a run and then backed off. Sri Lanka got the wicket at the right time as the partnership was slowly flourishing. Sri Lanka managed to choke West Indies for a while. In the meantime, Hope got to his 16th ODI fifty off 77 balls and was looking to bat deep.
Hope had built yet another fifty stand with Chase, who was already in good form going into this match. He fell nine sort of a half-century as Nuwan Pradeep, who had the best strike-rate (21.6) and average (16.4) in the middle phase (minimum: 10 wickets) ahead of the match cleaned him up.
After losing the wicket of Nicholas Pooran too shortly after, West Indies found themselves at 195 for 4 with 10 overs left. The good news for them was Hope was still at the crease, nearing a hundred and had Kieron Pollard for company, who is well known to tonk the ball over the fence with ease. Hope then brought up his hundred off 128 deliveries, but had lost his captain after he holed out in the deep for just nine.
Just when Hope was looking to up the ante, he was bowled by Isuru Udana for 115 off 140. Udana was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, finishing with 3 for 82. He was a tad expensive but picked up three crucial wickets. Paul played a gem of an innings in the end, scoring an unbeaten 32 off 17 to help his side to a formidable total and along with Walsh (20* off 8), put on 49 priceless runs for the eighth wicket.