ICC World Cup: Sri Lanka set West Indies 339 to win

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It was almost 16 hours before the Chester-le-Street encounter started out on Monday, that England had won a high-scoring encounter in Birmingham, and with that result, effectively ended Sri Lanka’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-final.

When Sri Lanka came out to bat against West Indies, a dead-rubber, they put up their highest score of the tournament – 338/6 – 91 more than their previous best of 247.

Put in to bat, Sri Lanka’s charge was led by Kusal Perera. On a wicket where the ball was coming on easily to the bat, the southpaw stroked his way to a 51-ball 64. He was well supported by his captain Dimuth Karunartne, who was slow but steady as the openers put on 93 runs, a clip faster than run-a-ball.

However, West Indies struck back by dismissing both the set batsmen in quick succession: Karunartne edging Holder to the ‘keeper and Kusal Perera running himself out due to a miscommunication.

Perera was given a reprieve in the 18th over, when Nicholas Pooran fluffed an easy chance. However, it didn’t cause much damage as Perera after adding only one more run to his tally.

However, Avishka Fernando ensured that the momentum wasn’t lost. He remained integral in the two steady stands that followed, in company of Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews.

Amidst some delightful drives and pulls by the batsmen, were the ample mercies of the West Indian bowlers, who delivered 5 wides and 5 no balls. The excess pace of their five-pronged pace attack did little to unsettle the batsmen, with Oshane Thomas’s 1-58 being the most economical spell by a pacer.

Fernando, in particular, was impressive with his assured strokeplay. For as much as the boundaries flowed, nine boundaries and two sixes, his innings was about finding gaps cleverly, and constantly rotating the strike without having to take much risks. The 21-year-old brought up his century in the 47th over, at run-a-ball, to become the third youngest Sri Lankan to score an ODI hundred, and the first from his country to do so in the ongoing edition.

Lahiru Thirimanne, who was brought back into the side at No 6, gave a good account of his aggressive game. Coming into bat in the 40th over, he swung his bat around and collected 4 boundaries en route a 33-ball 45, which helped Sri Lanka power well in the late overs.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 338/6 in 50 overs (Avishka Fernando 104, Kusal Perera 64; Jason Holder 2-59, Oshane Thomas 1-58) vs West Indies.