Marauding Maharoof mauls Windies
Mahroof turned marauder mauling the West Indies line up with fiery bowling taking 3/9 as Sri Lanka recorded its second consecutive victory in the IndianOil Tri-series on Sunday.
The Windies batters couldn't handle the pace of Sri Lanka's frontline bowlers and slumped to a 50 run defeat despite a sensational half-century by tail-ender, Dwayne Smith.
Mahroof was adjudged Man-of-the match for his incisive bowling and a brilliant catch at fine-leg to dismiss Sylvester Joseph.
West Indies got off to a dreadful start when Mahroof knocked off Ryan Ramdass' off stump with a great in-swinging delivery in the 3rd over.
The two opening bowlers, Mahroof and Dilhara mounted the pressure with the former coming into the right-handed batsmen and the latter, shaping just a touch away.
Mahroof mixed his balls well to strike again in the seventh over getting the other opener, this time caught behind of a brute of a delivery. The Windies batters in fact scored a single run of his 3 overs, preferring Lokhuttige's more 'hittable' deliveries.
Mahroof was certainly on fire but not while catching as he dropped the next man, Sylvester Joseph of Dilhara's bowling. He made amends though - much to the disappointment of Joseph - by diving forward on the run on a similar flick to fine leg and holding; much to the ecstasy of Dilhara.
Now all hope was left to Chanderpaul, who came into bat at a precariously poised 21/3.
He was in spectacular form, stroking three clean hits to the fence and moved to 14 in a jiffy. But one small error in judgement and the skipper spooned the ball back to Dilhara, who was mighty glad to accept the catch.
Dilhara and Mahroof were really turning the screws on the Windies batsmen by now, uncorking some of their best bowling. Both were super-sharp and bang on target, giving absolutely no leeway to the batsmen to take them easy.
And sure enough, Ricardo Powell - known for his big-hitting - wasn't even able to defend well.
He gave a sloppy jab, with no footwork to a lovely off-cutter by Mahroof, getting all ends up. The scorecard read 39/5 at 15 overs.
With that kind of start, Windies were going nowhere. And Murali wasn't even introduced as yet.
Deonarine, who debuted against India, and scored 41 of 91 balls on Sunday, was still a flicker of hope, holding his guard and carving out runs, when all other were falling like nine pins.
Murali wasn't able to spin his magic early on though, neither doing a job of containment nor taking wickets. He was simply acting as a sidekick to the faster bowlers and filing his overs in. Dwayne Smith, who replaced Powell, in fact took a particular liking to him, dismissing him all over the outfield, with utter disdain.
He was soon replaced by Fernando, who delighted Atapattu by striking immediately in the 25th over with a quick delivery, foxing the well-set Deonarine as the ball took the bottom edge of the bat and crashed into the stumps. The West Indies were tottering at 75-6.
Ramdin, the next man in, made his intentions clear at the very outset - whacking his first ball for four. He hit a four each in the next three overs as well, forcing Atapattu to open the field for him. He raced to 23 off just 19 balls, overtaking Smith who had mellowed down after Murali was taken off the attack.
Both the batsmen were playing well at 29 each, up until the 35th over when Chandana finally got the 'danger-man' Ramdin out. He tried to heave over leg but did not keep his eyes on the ball, finally being bowled through the gate. The run rate was dismally low for West Indies now, registering a feeble 3.4, still requiring 122 runs of 88 balls.
Tino Best who then came in misread a Murali delivery and was caught being plumb in front.
Smith continued to keep his end up though and hit a six over midwicket off Chandana to score an aggressive fifty in the process. He truly came to his element after that, smashing Chandana for 17 runs in the next over including a huge six which cleared the stadium. He had bridged the gap between balls to be faced and runs to be scored, drastically with Windies now needing just 65 runs off 40 balls.
As the conditions became rosier for them, Murali spun a magic delivery to Smith, which the batsman couldn't respond. The ball rolled on to the stumps leaving Smith haplessly smiling at the bowler.
With Smith gone, the rest of the batsmen lost courage and failed to put much of a fight. Lawson was the last man out for one, stumped by Sangakkara of Dilshan's first delivery.
Lanka fails to capitalize
Earlier, Sri Lanka failed to capitalize on a decent platform set by two superb half-centuries of Attaputta and Sangakarra, finishing with just 241 for six wickets.
The late blitzkrieg by Arnold and Chandana pushed the Sri Lankan total to some respectability, but not before the Windies bowlers got a flurry of wickets, totally demolishing the middle-order.
After electing to bat, Sri Lanka lost debutante Upul Tharanga, trapped LBW to Deighton Butler for 6.
Tharanga, who came in place of injured Sanath Jayasuriya, who is suffering from a shoulder injury, looked promising in the first over when he slammed Butler in the first over for a four through the covers. But he succumbed to a rising delivery from the same bowler in his second over, caught plumb in front.
After the debutante's departure, Kumara Sangakarra joined his captain, Marvan Attaputta only to find Butler and Lawson sending down some really fiery deliveries. Both the batsmen looked like cats hopping around, on a hot tin roof.
Sangakarra, in fact took 18 deliveries to get off the mark!
It was a real treat to see the two frontline fast bowlers, sacrificing speed for accuracy after a none-too impressive display against India.
The two batsmen gritted their teeth and hung-out , determined not to lose another wicket. They steadied the rocking ship with a laborious partnership, scoring a mere 55 of the first 18 overs.
The bowling change though, gave some confidence to both of them, with Sangakkara upping the tempo against Denoarine Smith, with quick ones and twos. He hit two smacking fours in consecutive deliveries of the off-spinner.
Attapattu gave him good company, playing the sheet anchor's role to perfection. He gave much of the strike to his partner, who continued to pile misery on the change-up bowlers.
Sangakkara reached his 50 with a solid punch on the back-foot for a single in the 29th over. With him in such pristine form and the bowlers unable to stem the flow of runs, Chanderpaul, scratching his head, started focussing more on containment rather than on taking wickets.
This proved to a boost for Atapattu who till now was lying low, looking for the right opportunity. He soon joined Sangakkara - charging down the wicket for a single - with his 51st fifty in ODIs.
Both the batsmen were going strong and look settled to guide Lanka to a formidable total. But the run-rate was still creeping around four. Sangakkara seemed to realise that and looked to hit over the top once again, but failed on this occasion, ball landing safely into Chanderpaul's hand - a sad end to a fine innings of 79 - Sri Lanka two down in the 37th over.
From then on, the West Indian bowlers took charge, with a flurry of wickets going down cheaply after Sangakkara's dismissal. Dilhara who impressed everyone, in the opener against India with both bat and ball, was promoted up the order but did not last long - scoring just nine. Attapatu followed him soon after, running himself out for well-compiled 70.
Jayawardene looked like staying on the wicket. He even took Lawson for 13 runs in the 44th over pushing the total past 200, but got out on a rank-bad shot for 16, Smith knocking off his stumps in the process.
Russel Arnold and Upal Chandana took charge thereafter, both playing a short but nevertheless a gutsy innings. They took the attack to the cleaners, digging out some pretty incisive yorkers and hitting the rest all over the park. Because of their effort, Lanka managed 41 runs in the last five overs at an incredible rate of eight runs per over.
At the end of the 50th over, Chandana and Arnold remained unbeaten on 15 and 21 respectively.
The pick of the bowlers was Deonarine Smith who bowled with a lot of guile and deception, foxing the Sri Lankan batsmen. He finished with 2 for 55.