Underdogs West Indies Crush Sri Lanka: Match Review

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Underdogs West Indies Crush Sri Lanka: Match Review

10th June 2018. It had the making of a typical day. A typical Sunday. A typical sporting day. A typical cricketing day. Only it wasn’t. It was a day when an underdog team of Bangladesh women surprised and outplayed their neighbours India in the Asia Cup final. What an impact that is going to have on Cricket in Bangladesh! It was a day when a team still very upset over the World Cup snub, Scotland, overcame a mighty England ODI side. Much to the delight of the fans who are forever angry at the ICC.

However, if you hadn’t noticed and nobody blames you if you haven’t, in a very unassuming yet quite emphatic manner, a side ranked number nine on the Test rankings, the West Indies, beat number six Sri Lanka in a Test Match. Before you brush it aside as an  ordinary win, let me tell you why it wasn’t. While we all agree that Sri Lanka haven’t been the greatest Test sides in the world, West Indies have been even more miserable. Last time they won the first Test in a series not featuring Zimbabwe was back in 2014 against Bangladesh. The last time they won a series not featuring Zimbabwe was the same series against Bangladesh.

But there have been dribbles from West Indies Test side in recent years. While they are yet to achieve anything significant, under Stuart Law their coach, they have managed to bring up a side which will compete. Their wins against England in England, against Pakistan in UAE and back home have been their most significant victories in recent years. All these wins have been brought by a young but a talented side. In Shai Hope they have one for the future. In Shane Dowrich they have a talented wicket-keeper batsman.

Their bowling is quite competent in their own conditions, spearheaded by Kemar Roach and Shanon Gabriel. They are led admirably by Jason Holder who is getting increasingly comfortable with the all-rounder role. All they needed was everything to come together and come together for five days.
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On winning the toss, the West Indies decided to bat first. At 145 for 5 it seemed like another one of those missed opportunities for them. The threat of another underwhelming first innings total loomed large. But as has been the case with them, skipper Jason Holder steered the ship with the bat. Along with Shane Dowrich, their partnership seemed to be taking West Indies to a respectable total. But Lahiru Kumara, who was having a fine game until then by dismissing their mainstays in Shai Hope and Roston Chase, dismissed Jason Holder. At 237-6, Sri Lanka were the happier side.

However, West Indies didn’t surrender. They hung in there with some gritty contributions from Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach. All this while Dowrich continued and ended up with a brilliant 125 not out. While, their scoring rate hadn’t been exactly aggressive, their declaration at 414 for 8 surprised Sri Lanka, as a result of which they ended day two at 31 for 3. Losing their mainstays in Kusal Mendis and Matthews to a fine display of fast bowling from Roach and Gabriel.

The rest of the Sri Lankan batting unit failed to replicate the West Indian batting performance and were bundled out for 185. But there was still plenty of time in the game and the pitch was still pretty slow and without demons. Hence, West Indies went for a slow kill. They self-admittedly wanted to tire Sri Lankan bowlers down. This resulted in a slow but assured return of 223 for 7, meaning the target was 453 and this was with still almost 150 overs to play.

But when you don’t win often, there are doubts. There are doubts whether they took too much time, whether this would be enough, whether their bowlers still have appetite to go for it. This doubt began to increase further when an increasingly confident Kusal Mendis decided to take on the bowling. At 175 for 3 on Day 4 murmurs had begun.

Every run was being counted. Sri Lanka began Day 5 needing 277. But the thing with Test pitches on Day 5 is that anything can make them erupt. Unfortunately for Mendis and Sri Lanka it did when the score was only 189 and with his fall and in the manner in which he fell meant Sri Lanka could never recover. They were soon bundled out for 226 and it turned out to be quite a meek end. Not for West Indies though. They will enjoy this rare victory over a side ranked quite high above them. It wasn’t a typical day after all.

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