Windies beat Lanka by 33 runs
The depleted West Indies side pulled off a spectacular 'coup' to defeat Sri Lanka by 33 runs in Colombo on Saturday.
The fifth ODI of the IndianOil Tri-series saw Sri Lanka succumb to a yet another middle order collapse from which the home team - despite Arnold's (59) heroic effort - could not recover. The Lankans fell short of the modest 227-run target set by Windies, thanks to a combined effort by the Caribbean bowlers.
The West Indies batting line up had earlier notched up the runs in the stipulated 50 overs with Chanderpaul (57) and Sylvester Joseph (58) among the top scorers.
Omari Banks was adjudged the man-of-the-match for picking up two wickets and scoring a quickfire 33 runs.
Sri Lanka were off to confident start with openers Jayasuriya and Tharanga taking runs at will against the Windies attack.
With Jermaine Lawson 'resting' for the match, the bowling line up seemed to have lost its edge and proved no match to the openers' array of strokes.
Best was disappointing. Though he did manage to get some deliveries to whiz past Tharanga's blade, it lacked the awkward bounce of the last match against India.
With the frontline pace attack pretty much blunted out, Lanka raced along to 39 for no loss at the start of the 10th over.
But by the end of that over, the scene had changed.
Sanath Jayasuriya erred on a Butler's delivery, by going back to a ball heading into middle stump and was found plumb in front. Lanka had lost its first wicket for 46 runs.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Kumara Sangakkara replaced Jayasuriya, but couldn't replace the tempo. Sri Lanka's run-rate plummeted and with it, Tharanga's buoyancy.
Sangakkara, in a bid to restore some of the lost confidence, went for a lofted drive against Powell. Marshall, at cover, put his hand out in the air and conjured up a splendid one-handed diving catch. Sri Lanka lost the second wicket for 64 in the 15th over.
The star of the last match, Mahela Jayawardene walked out next to join mellowed-down Tharanga.
At this stage even with falling wickets, Sri Lanka had kept the required run-rate well covered. The only chance Windies had was to bowl the Lankans out.
Chanderpaul sensed that and brought Dwayne Smith to bowl, to further unsettle the batters. This move worked like a charm, with Tharanga and Dilshan getting cleaned up off consecutive balls. Tharanga was bowled through the gate for a laborious 25 while Dilshan plumb for nought, first ball.
The scorecard read 73/4 in the 19th over and the home team was yet again teetering on the brink of an another collapse.
Now the two batsmen on the crease - Jayawardene and Arnold - were new-comers. The former was in pristine touch, looking as if he was following on from 94 not out from the last match against India.
However, it was 'just a flash in the pan'. Jayawardene, going for glory, charged down the wicket to hit Omari Banks out of the ground. The ball went sky high, but could not clear the distance and ended up straight down long on's throat. He was gone for 22 and Sri Lanka was 92/5 in the 25th over.
Chandana, like a dutiful disciple, followed soon after for just 4 runs off Omari Banks.
West Indies were smelling victory and for the first time the required run rate had crept up to 6 runs per over.
Maharoof, the next man in, provided some fireworks. But he did not last long, going back to defend a rising ball and edging it straight to Ramdin. Lanka were 140/7 now in the 37th over, still requiring 87 off just 78 balls!
Zoysa, who replaced Mahroof, looked solid, but only for a short while. Lanka were losing a flurry of wickets with only Arnold stationed firmly at the other end.
Murali on 1 gave a wild swipe to a short ball of Powell and top-edged it straight to long-on. The scoreboard read 171/9, and Windies needed just one more wicket to pull off a splendid victory.
With nine down, Arnold looked to quicken the pace and even registered his 21st fifty in the process. But that attack was too late, too less.
Arnold finally succumbed to the pressure he was soaking up for so long, getting bowled round his legs by Deonarine for a well compiled 59.
West Indies set 227-run target
Earlier, West Indies made a mess of a great start provided by skipper Chanderpaul (57) and Sylvester Joseph (58) to totter up to 226 at the end of the 50 overs against Sri Lanka.
West Indies won the toss and elected to bat first against Sri Lanka in their last league engagement at the Premadasa Stadium here on Saturday.
Skipper Shivnarine Chanderpaul opened the West Indies innings for the first time in the series, with Xavier Marshall at his side.
West Indies started the game on a steady note, giving no chance to the seasoned Sri Lankan bowler Nuwan Zoysa to draw first blood. Zoysa, as expected, was on target from the word go, but could not force the openers to make a mistake.
The first breakthrough finally came in the form of a run out in the eighth over when Tharanga, at mid-on hit the stumps, with a direct throw. Marshall was out for 8 (22 balls) with West Indies reeling at 25/1.
The next man in, Sylvester Joseph gave good support to the skipper by not trying anything obnoxious.
The partnership looked secure and thwarted all attempts by the Lankans to attack the wicket. Both batters played their parts to perfection;Chanderpaul scored briskly, while Joseph played the anchor role at the crease.
The 23rd over saw the skipper eventually reach his half-century in just 72 balls. The scorecard read 90/1, vindicating the incredible jump in the run rate of the last 5-6 overs.
Chanderpaul's joy of reaching fifty was short-lived though, with Upal Chandana finally ending the wicket drought. A well-flighted delivery outside the off-stump induced the skipper to drive, but he ended up spooning a catch to Maharoof at point.
With Windies' most experienced batsman gone, it was left to Joseph to take charge.
And he took that burden with amazing panache, soon upping the tempo. He grew in confidence with every single delivery, making sure that the new man Deonarine did not soak up too much pressure. The run-rate grew even healthier, with Joseph using his feet against Murali and Chandana.
He too scored a half century, like his skipper, but this one was even better. The West Indies were by now at 147/2, with just fifteen overs left. At the other end, Deonarine had raced to 21, taking a few cheeky risks.
However, his tenure at the crease ended when he tried to sweep against Chandana's spin. The ball missed the bat but hit his leg in front of the stumps. The umpire raised his finger and the batsman was walking back to the pavilion.
Banks replaced Deonarine and soon made his presence felt by running out well-set Joseph. He pushed to off and went for a single, but then scrambled back. Joseph was stranded mid-way, as he watched Fernando take the bails off.
Smith was the next man in, with West Indies on the brink of collapse.
Smith and Banks put up a 'makeshift' stand of 24 runs, before wily Murali produced another one of his beauty. Smith was plumbed for 13, with Windies reeling at 189/5 in the 46th over.
Ricardo Powell walked to the crease and back within a spate of few deliveries, scoring just 8 off 4 balls. Omari Banks at the other end was still going strong, making sure that West Indies reach a respectable total.
His amazing quickness on the pitch got Windies to 226/7, with the last four overs fetching 37 runs. Banks (33) ran himself out in the second last ball of the West Indies innings. Chandana was the pick of the bowlers with a figures of 2/49.
Xavier Marshall, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (capt), SC Joseph, Narsingh Deonarine, Ricardo Powell, Dwayne Smith, Omari Banks, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Tino Best, Deighton Butler, Daren Powell
Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Zoysa, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando