Sri Lanka after being put to bat first at Riverside Cricket Ground were off to a very decent start with their openers putting on 93 runs in the first 15 overs. Skipper Dimuth scored 32 while Kusal Perrera who opened the innings this time (which was a good move, considering he is an aggressive batsman) grabbed the opportunity from both the hands scoring 64 off 51 balls. Avishka Fernando who came at no.3 brought up his maiden ODI hundred and that too in a big platform like World Cup. 21yr old Avishka scored a confident 104 off 103 balls anchoring Sri Lanka towards a big total. Avishka was supported well by middle order batters like Kusal Mendis (39), Angelo Matthews (26) and Lahiru Thirumanne (45*) pushing Sri Lanka to 338/6 in 50 overs.
For West Indies, this must have been a pressure match not because of any points tension or the big target but because of the support they received from the stands. Global Singing sensation Rihanna specially flew down to England to support his school mate and his friend Carlos Braithwaite and the entire WI team. The West Indian boys must be feeling the heat to impress the crush of many around the world specially coming to watch them play!
West Indies with 2/22 in the 5th over were not looking poised enough to reach 300 but Nicholas Pooran at no.4 played a brilliant knock of 118 runs in 104 balls (11 fours, 4 sixes). Pooran who is known to be a clean hitter did manage to pack a few lusty blows keeping the West Indies fans glued to their seats. Fabia Allen’s (51 off 32) efforts down the order at no.8 further made this an interesting match which West Indies however fell short by 23 runs. West Indies reached 315/9 in 50 overs but never the less it was a good fight and an overall good match of cricket for the spectators and viewers alike. Veteran Lasith Malinga with 3/55 in 10 overs was again the pick of the bowlers time and again shutting down the selectors and his critics.
Sri Lanka won the match by 23 runs and 21yr old Avishka Fernando was declared ‘man of the match’ for his maiden ODI hundred.
It feels really good that Sri Lanka who entered with the weakest squad in the World Cup to see that their motivation and energy levels have rose up considerably in the last few games. They are not just giving up with any teams as they will leave for their home country with some confidence and joy. Alteast they will have something to talk about at with some good wins in the kitty.
Article orignally written for sportsnasha.com