By BV Swagath
West Indies eased to a 6-wicket win with as many as 73 balls to spare in the opening match of the Tri-Series against Sri Lanka at Jamaica. The victory was set up by the bowlers, in particular Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine who helped the hosts to bowl out Lanka for just 208. West Indies got the runs in quick time thanks to a 21st ODI century from Chris Gayle which resulted in a bonus point.
Asked to bat first under overcast conditions, Sri Lanka got off to a busy start despite Upul Tharanga looking very uncertain about his off stump. Tharanga got out in the 14th over with a 43-ball 25 nicking an attempted cut off Dwayne Bravo to the keeper. Much of the scoring until then was being done by Mahela Jayawardene who was batting beautifully as an opener. But Mahela got out after reaching his fifty, 52 from 57 balls to be precise, when he was caught bat pad by the keeper off a jumping off break from Sunil Narine.
Sri Lanka lost another key wicket of Sangakkara (17 from 23 balls) as the left hander drove Narine early to spoon a simple catch to covers. The visitors at 104 for 3 in 22 overs were now depending on its brittle middle order to take them to a good total which simply didn’t happen. West Indies went onto put a stranglehold on the Lankans who kept on losing wickets.
Skipper Angelo Mathews was the only one keeping his end intact while managing an unbeaten 55 from 77 balls with 5 fours. The Lankans were bowled out for a modest 208 with Ravi Rampaul taking 3 for 38 and Sunil Narine coming up with impact figures of 4 for 40.
Windies eased towards the target with Chris Gayle finding his touch early although his opening partner Johnson Charles struggled to pierce the infield. Gayle got to a cracking fifty in no time and Johnson Charles’ boring innings of 29 from 58 balls came to an end in the 21st over through a slog sweep off Herath. Despite Charles’ dull scoring, West Indies had got to 115 for 1 in 20.2 overs thanks to Gayle who went onto register a 21st ODI century in just 89 balls. Gayle got out in the 31st over caught slog sweeping Ajantha Mendis but not before sealing the run chase with a 100-ball 109 (with 9 fours and 7 sixes). West Indies eventually got to the target in 37.5 overs. Gayle got the Man of the Match award ahead of Narine.
Toss and Teams: Hosts West Indies have won the toss and asked Sri Lanka to bat first in the opening game of the Tri-Series at Kingston in Jamaica. The Sabina Park pitch has some big cracks but looks pretty hard. The pitch could show variable pace and bounce while assisting the spinners as the match progresses.
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo (C), Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (WK), Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeevan Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga