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Indomitable West Indies openers shine in tense run chase vs Sri Lanka

WI v SRI, 2nd ODI, report

Hit For Six!

Shai Hope and Evin Lewis’ dominance laid the groundwork for West Indies to complete a tense 274-run chase as they took an unassailable 2-0 series lead at home over Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka had a late flurry from Wanindu Hasaranga to thank for posting a competitive total of 273/8, largely built on the determination of Danushka Gunathilaka (96) and Dinesh Chandimal (71).

In reply, Lewis and Hope put on an opening-wicket stand of 192 – West Indies’ biggest ever in ODIs against Sri Lanka – forming the bedrock for the home side, who won with two balls to spare after a late flurry from Nicholas Pooran.

Having lost the toss, Sri Lanka were floundering inside the opening Powerplay, losing skipper Dimuth Karunaratne (1) to Alzarri Joseph (2/42) in the third over. Pathum Nissanka was Joseph's second victim four overs later; the fast bowler nipping a full delivery back and through the gate with the Sri Lankan No.3 on 10.

Akeal Hosein (1/20) bagged the third wicket, getting some grip and turn out of the pitch to force a thick edge from Oshada Fernando (2) that was pouched by Jason Holder at slip, leaving the hosts reeling at 50/3 from 8.4 overs.

Solidifying a shaky start for Sri Lanka was a must, and Gunathilaka and Chandimal set about the rebuild, putting on a 100-run partnership off 128 balls.

The pair had Sri Lanka on course for a big finish at 150/3 in the 30th over only for a three-wicket burst from Jason Mohammed (3/47) to take the wind out of their sails.

Gunathilaka was left agonisingly short of a third ODI century, reaching a run-a-ball 96 featuring 10 fours and three sixes only to have his off-stump knocked over by a Mohammed off-break.

The visitors struggled to increase the run rate from there and Ashen Bandara soon followed Gunathilaka back to the sheds, falling to Mohammed for 18. Chandimal, who had slowly but surely made his way to 71 from 98, fell in the 42nd over to the same bowler.

Hasaranga’s arrival at the crease signalled a change in fortunes for Sri Lanka as the all-rounder set about bolstering a stumbling innings with a late flourish, scoring 47 off just 31 deliveries as he carted the West Indies bowlers for four sixes and two fours to help take his side to a competitive total.

In the chase, the West Indies’ in-form opening partnership of Hope and Lewis set about the Powerplay in familiar fashion, seeing through the first 10 overs for 57 runs without loss – one more than the first ODI.

Lewis demonstrated his all-round game throughout with some tidy strokes down the ground and some power hitting into the leg-side, and he was the first to reach a half-century, sweeping Lakshan Sandakan for a single to bring up the milestone off his 52nd delivery.

With Lewis on 75 at the non-striker's end, Hope ticked his score up to 50 off 63 balls in the 24th over. It was his fifth straight half-century in ODI cricket.

Lewis raised his fourth ODI ton off his 116th delivery in the 37th over, knocking Nuwan Pradeep off his hip to mid-wicket before the Sri Lankan fightback began. He fell next over on 103 to Sandakan (1/36), stumped as he attempted to heave the spinner over mid-on.

Thisara Perera then claimed his first wicket in the following over, dismissing Hope for 84 after a rare swing into the off-side found the hands of Pradeep. And as the scoreboard pressure increased on the West Indies, Perera (2/45) claimed his second, taking the wicket of Darren Bravo (10), having been hit for 10 off the first five balls of the 42nd over.

With the game set for a T20-style run chase, the sight of Kieron Pollard hitting consecutive boundaries would have struck fear into Sri Lanka’s bowlers, but a brilliant yorker from Pradeep trapped the dangerman in front for 15. 

Serious pressure was mounting on the West Indies and when Pradeep removed Fabian Allen (15) in the 48th over things were leaning Sri Lanka's way. However, Pradeep leaked 18 runs in that same over, reducing the target to 13 from the final two. Dushmantha Chameera (0/56) limited the damage to four runs off the penultimate over, but Pooran sent Pradeep (2/66) to the boundary twice in the final over to see the home side to victory.

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