Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rain rules

WI, Sri Lanka try again today

Fans packed the Queen’s Park Oval yesterday hoping to see West Indies and Sri Lanka slug it out for a spot in Thursday’s final of the Celkon Mobile Cup Tri-Nation Series, also involving India.

What they got instead were three wickets and then a heavy helping of rain, along with the promise of a conclusion of the match on today’s reserve day.

Sri Lanka’s classy No.3 batsman Kumar Sangakkara (11 not out) and No.5 Lahiru Thirimanne (13 not out) will hope to continue their repair job after a mix of erratic and incisive bowling from West Indies reduced them to 60 for three.

The teams will return to the Oval today for a 9.30 a.m. start, with 31 overs of the Sri Lanka innings left to be completed.

West Indies rang in the changes from the team walloped by India on Friday by 102 runs, with local opener Lendl Simmons batting in the middle order, replacing Denesh Ramdin, pacer Jason Holder slotting in for injured spinner Sunil Narine, and Devon Smith coming in for skipper Dwayne Bravo, who is on a one-match suspension for slow over rate. Johnson Charles took the gloves from wicketkeeper Ramdin.

If they were happy to bat first, having been inserted by West Indies, Sri Lanka’s emotions would have been far different after 6.2 overs when they were left tottering at 29 for three.

The Windies pacers hit their lines and lengths early, but Tino Best and Jason Holder in particular gave away too many extras. In all, 20 have already been conceded.

Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga (both seven runs)—who shared in Sri Lanka’s opening stand of 213 that helped them hammer India by 161 runs last week in Jamaica on the Duckworth/Lewis method—looked comfortable for the first few overs, although Tharanga was dropped by Charles behind the stumps in the third.

This time, there would be no commanding opening partnership.

Tharanga handed Holder his wicket with an uppish cover drive that Darren Bravo expertly plucked out of the air off the final ball of the fourth over.

Next ball, Jayawardene made the long walk back to the pavilion—caught by Devon Smith at point off bat and helmet—once the third umpire confirmed that Roach had not overstepped. That was close, but there were no such issues when Roach snuck through Dinesh Chandimal’s defences. He made two.

Sangakkara had one lbw scare, but he and Thirimanne weathered the storm of good fast bowling to keep West Indies at bay until the real rains came and thwarted the contest. Rain fell intermittently, and then heavily throughout lunch until after 2 p.m. the announcement was made that the reserve day would be required.

When play resumes this morning, those teams will not be the only parties interested in the result, with India looking on intently.

They face Sri Lanka tomorrow in a must-win encounter, but first they will be hoping West Indies can triumph.

That result, together with a win from India tomorrow, will ensure them a berth in the final. If Sri Lanka take victory and lose to India, the world champions will have to depend on run rate, and theirs is the worst in the series so far. Whatever that result, India must win their encounter to stand a chance.

One win in Sri Lanka’s last two matches should be enough to take them into the final, whoever their opposition. But first, today, they have to make up for their poor start against the home side.