If the West Indies find themselves mere spectators at Thursday’s Celkon Mobile Tri-Nation Series Cup final, they will have to blame their batsmen, with the exception of Darren Bravo and Lendl Simmonds.
Set a revised 230 to get off 41 overs after rain again intervened, Kieron Pollard’s side reached 190 for 9 to lose by 39 runs. They got half-centuries from the two Trinidadians but not more than 15 from anyone else, with as many as four batsmen failing to trouble the scorers.
As things now stand, Sri Lanka essentially have one foot in the final. Only a trashing by India in today’s sixth match can deny them. India will need to win and earn at least one bonus point to seal their place.
The home side can only sit and watch, hoping that the 1996 World Cup champions can run the current Champions Trophy champions close and spare them the ignominy of missing out on the finals of a major tournament which they have hosted.
Getting the 219 Sri Lanka actually posted yesterday after resuming on 60 for 3 was never going to be a walk in the (Queen’s) Park (Oval). On their day, however, the World T20 champions have been able to reach similar targets without breaking a sweat.
But yesterday, the reserve day for the fifth match in this series, was emphatically NOT their day. After rain stopped the West Indian momentum on the original match day on Sunday, expectations were high that they would continue their good work on the resumption.
Sri Lanka veteran Kumar Sangakkara had other ideas.
When the weather finally permitted a resumption of play at 11:12 am, the left-handed wicketkeeper with over 11,000 ODI runs under his belt showed himself determined to be there at the end of the now 45-overs innings. Continuing his partnership with Lahiru Thirimanne, Sangakkara sought to consolidate the Sri Lankan position with a composed 50-run partnership.
When Thirimanne’s boundary-less vigil (23, 73 balls) was eventually ended, bowled by Marlon Samuels’ quicker delivery, the fourth-wicket alliance was worth 64.
Captain Angelo Matthews joined eventual Man-of-the-Match Sangakkara and the pair began at last to add momentum to the innings. But the heavens opened up briefly once more, forcing a further four-over reduction to each innings.
On the resumption, Matthews (30, 27 balls), in his 100th match, played a useful cameo while Jeevan Mendis (8, 5 balls) and Nuwan Kulasekera (14, 9 balls) both batted around Sangakkara, who just missed out on his 16th ODI century with an unbeaten knock of 90 off 96 balls.
Kemar Roach, currently the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with seven wickets at 25.42 each, was the biggest contributor for the WI, registering figures of 8-2-27-4.
Openers Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles set out on the chase in typically aggressive fashion. Kulasekera felt the full force of Gayle’s penchant for attack and was ruled out of the match and the tournament when he suffered a broken finger attempting to take a return catch off the Jamaican power-player.
But with the clouds hovering and the pitch beginning to assist the bowlers, both Gayle (14, 17 balls) and Charles (14, 13 balls) perished quickly and the Windies plummeted to 31 for 4 after just eight overs.
Gayle was set up and caught at deep point while Charles’ mistimed pull was snapped up by Shaminda Eranga off his own bowling. Devon Smith arguably surrendered his ninth and last West Indies life, falling LBW to Matthews.
Samuels, voted West Indies One-day and overall Player of the Year at last week’s WICB/WIPA Awards Ceremony, continued his poor tournament with the bat, edging a short ball to slip.
It was at that point that the hometown pair of Bravo (70, 84 balls) and the recalled Simmons (67, 78 balls) produced the day’s best exhibition, exciting their home crowd with a 123-run stand. Simmons, who has been in good form for West Indies A in the past month, was a delight to watch, hitting four monstrous sixes in his knock, one of them almost clearing the Gerry Gomez Media Center.
The duo took the WI to within 86 of their target with 10 overs left, eminently doable, the crowd was sure, with Pollard and the bowlers still to come. But a drizzle began. Seeing his side 10 runs behind the D/L par score, Simmons tried to force the issue and gave Thirimanne at deep cover an easy catch.
Unprecipitated by precipitation from above, the end came quickly. Entering to a rapturous reception from the expectant crowd, the acting captain departed rapidly, his tournament scores reading 0, 4, 0, 0.
The last five partnerships contributed a mere 46 off six overs, succeeding merely in raising fresh questions about the WI batsmen’s consistent inability to ally sound judgement to indisputable native talent. One would have thought the Sangakkara example from earlier in the day would have helped but it was not to be.
Now, suspended ODI captain Dwayne Bravo, his deputy Pollard, Gayle. Samuel and perhaps Charles as well will be hoping against hope that the Sri Lankans can today give them one last chance to redeem themselves on Thursday.
Results and Schedule of matches
All matches start at 9:30 am
Friday June 28: West Indies bt Sri Lanka by 6 wkts – Sabina Park,
Sunday June 30: West Indies bt India by 1 wkt – Sabina Park
Tuesday July 2: Sri Lanka bt India by 161 runs – Sabina Park
Friday July 5: India bt West Indies by 102 runs (DL Method) – Oval
Sunday July 7: Sri Lanka bt West Indies by 39 runs (DL Method) – Oval
Tuesday July 9: Sri Lanka vs India – Oval
Thursday July 11: Final – Oval