Windies de­fend 227 for bonus-point win

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

WEST Indies’ bowlers led by Ja­son Holder and Ash­ley Nurse de­fended 227 on a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing Harare Sports Club pitch to reg­is­ter a bonus-point win, their first against Sri Lanka at a neu­tral venue since 1999.

West Indies may not have had as much had it not been for en­ter­pris­ing cameos from Jonathan Carter and debu­tant Rov­man Pow­ell.

Holder set the tone with a sen­sa­tional open­ing spell of swing bowl­ing in which he picked up two wick­ets and con­ceded 12 in five overs.

He had Dhanan­jaya de Silva caught be­hind off an in­side edge and drew Kusal Mendis for­ward with a full de­liv­ery that swung away late and took the out­side edge.

Nurse took a re­verse-cupped catch in front of his face at sec­ond slip. In be­tween, John­son Charles ef­fected an ag­ile run-out of Kusal Per­era, hit­ting the stumps di­rectly from square leg.

The pitch seemed to slow down as the af­ter­noon wore on with more than a few balls stop­ping in the sur­face.

Nurse dis­missed Sri Lanka cap­tain Upul Tha­ranga with one such de­liv­ery. It pitched on leg, draw­ing Tha­ranga into a flick, but the ball spun and bounced ex­trav­a­gantly to take the lead­ing edge and lobbed back to the bowler.

A few overs later, Nurse beat the de­fence of Asela Gu­naratne and trapped him in front with what looked like an in­nocu­ous off­break.

Sud­denly, Sri Lanka had slumped to 79 for 6 on a sur­face that was get­ting in­creas­ingly harder to bat on, mak­ing West Indies’ score of 227 seem a lot more.

Sa­chith Pathi­rana and Shehan Jaya­suriya kept Sri Lanka in the hunt with a 60-run sev­enth-wicket part­ner­ship, but too much dam­age had been done too early.

Nurse fin­ished with 3 for 46, while Shan­non Gabriel claimed the last two wick­ets to re­turn 3 for 31.

West Indies’ first away ODI win since the 2015 World Cup was achieved af­ter Ja­son Holder had lost his sixth straight toss and West Indies were put in. For most of their re­cent ODI series against Pak­istan, their fo­cus was on their big­gest strength: pow­er­hit­ting, as op­posed to strike-ro­ta­tion.

It seemed like West Indies had in­ten­tion­ally swapped their strat­egy, with mixed re­sults. West Indies’ ma­jor con­cern would have been ne­go­ti­at­ing a test­ing open­ing spell in gloomy con­di­tions.

Their bats­men were adept at do­ing so, al­beit on a morn­ing with less swing avail­able than in the tris­eries opener two days ago.

Sri Lanka nipped out the open­ers in that pe­riod, in­clud­ing the run-out of Kraigg Brath­waite who plonked his bat on the crease while com­plet­ing a run.

The bat jarred in the turf and bounced up as Nuwan Ku­lasekara’s di­rect hit from mid-on found him short.

Debu­tant Shai Hope and Evin Lewis, a T20 spe­cial­ist, were then forced to sta­bilise a fal­ter­ing in­nings. As the slower bowlers were in­tro­duced, the pair looked in so much dis­com­fort in find­ing gaps that West Indies could only muster 51 runs be­tween overs 11 and 25.

The Harare pitch had be­gun to de­te­ri­o­rate and the Sri Lanka spin­ners stran­gled the bats­men. West Indies had cut out ex­pan­sive shots on their own vo­li­tion, and Sri Lanka closed the gaps.

Carter, an ODI spe­cial­ist, found his rhythm from the out­set, hit­ting gaps and find­ing sin­gles by look­ing for them. He struck 54, and picked off two fours and two sixes in a 62-ball knock filled with in­tent.

Pow­ell dis­played his ball-strik­ing abil­ity in his 29-ball 44, an in­nings that fea­tured two fours and three mus­cu­lar sixes into the leg side, all a re­sult of a strong bot­tom hand.

Just when West Indies looked set for a score in ex­cess of 250, Sri Lanka’s seam­ers re­turned in the end overs to trig­ger a col­lapse. West Indies lost their last five wick­ets for 18 runs.

West Indies 227 (Carter 54, Hope 47, Pow­ell 44, Ku­lasekara 2-37) beat Sri Lanka 165 (Pathi­rana 45, Gabriel 3-31, Nurse 3-46, Holder 2-16) by 62 runs. - ESPNCricinfo

at the last hur­dle by Bantu Rovers, will want to end the sea­son with some­thing to show for their sweat also as a con­so­la­tion, while ZPC Hwange play­ers are nat­u­rally fight­ing for their stom­achs.

To get to the fi­nal, Bu­l­awayo Chiefs knocked out Bantu Rovers 2-1 in the quar­ter-fi­nals be­fore ac­count­ing for ZRP Bu­l­awayo 3-2 in the semis, while ZPC Hwange were 1-0 win­ners over Tech­no­sphere in the quar­ter-fi­nals and 3-2 vic­tors over Vic­to­ria Falls based Ama­ga­gasi af­ter ex­tra time.

Ac­cord­ing to the tournament rules, the match will go into ex­tra time if the two fi­nal­ists are tied af­ter 90 min­utes and there­after it will be the dreaded shootouts. — @skhu­moyo2000.

Ja­son Holder

Ash­ley Nurse

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