West Indies vs Sri Lanka

By Rek Hanibal Published on April 03, 2021
West Indies vs Sri Lanka

Dimuth Karunaratne hit 75 and soaked up 176 deliveries in a century stand with Lahiru Thirimanne. Oshada Fernando struck an unbeaten half-century of his own later in the day, as Sri Lanka comfortably batted out a draw in Antigua.

Each of the four Sri Lanka batsmen who came to the crease in this innings appeared comfortable. Even if the quicks occasionally took the edge, the ball was likely to die well before it reached the slip cordon, as long as it had been played with soft hands. Rahkeem Cornwall, meanwhile, threatened the inside edge with his straighter deliveries, but none of the thick edges was a viable catch for the fielder at short leg. 

It was the 101-run opening stand that laid the platform for Sri Lanka's successful resistance. Thirimanne was dropped on 17 in the third when wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva failed to grasp a straightforward leg-side chance off of Gabriel's bowling, but otherwise, the openers were secure right through that session, defending resolutely and finding regular runs into the outfield, mostly square of the wicket.

Karunaratne was especially adept at shuffling across the stumps, closing his bat, and hitting into leg-side gaps. In fact, 55 of his runs (73%) came on that side of the pitch, with all but one of his nine boundaries scored there. He completed a half-century shortly before lunch, having hit some memorable on-drives, to go with his leg-side flicks.

Thirimanne was more cautious, venturing only two boundaries in the morning, perhaps pushed to reticence by the early chance he gave up. When he was dismissed for 39 off 114, nicking a full Alzarri Joseph delivery to first slip where Cornwall took a sharp, low catch, Karunaratne slowed down too. Although at times in his innings, Karunaratne was striking at over 50, his eventual strike rate was 43. Sri Lanka had very clearly decided the target of 377 

Oshawa, likewise, did not seem to be overly troubled either by the pitch or West Indies' depleted attack. He hit out only against the truly wayward balls, picking up frequent singles between the big shots. He scored more quickly than the openers, reaching his half-century off the 86th ball he faced but then buckled down soon after. He was 66, not out of 119 when Kraigg Brathwaite decided no result was possible, and the match was called off. With Karunaratne having been dismissed by Kyle Mayers late in the second session, Oshada had Dinesh Chandimal for the company for the 20 overs played in the third session. Chandimal made 10 off 66 deliveries.

In the end, this Antigua surface's refusal to take a substantial spin even at the back end of both Tests allowed teams to bat confidently in the fourth innings, greatly reducing the chance of a result. The 0-0 result means Sri Lanka failed to win any of their series in the Caribbean, having lost the T20Is 2-1 and the ODIs 3-0. They do maintain their No. 7 rankings in Tests, however, keeping West Indies at eight.

Rek Hanibal

Rek Hanibal

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