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West Indies pulls off an upset win

Sanjay Rajan

Sunday's encounter between India and the West Indies is a virtual semifinal

— Photo: V.V. Krishnan

GONE: The West Indies' Omari Banks being run out by Sri Lanka's Farveez Maharoof. — Photo: V.V. Krishnan

COLOMBO: : Sri Lanka found itself in a situation similar to that in Dambulla. Only, Mahela Jayawardene didn't stay long enough to enact a recovery.

The middle-order bat had then scored an undefeated 94 to guide Sri Lanka to victory over India from the pits — 95 for six — of despair. But the 28-year-old stylist was fifth out with the team score at 92, chasing 227 for victory, as the West Indies recorded an upset 33-run victory under lights at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Saturday.

The win by Shiv Chanderpaul's boys has thrown open the tri-series, as Sunday's concluding league clash between India and the `Men in Maroon' is a virtual semifinal.

The host rested Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya played instead, while Dilhara Lokuhettige and paceman Pradeep Jayaprakashdaran made way for Muttiah Muralitharan and Nuwan Zoysa.

Losing start

Jayawardene was the stand-in skipper — it was to be first defeat as captain in five matches — as the target of 227 turned out to be a tall task in the face of a top-order collapse. The West Indies pace-pack bowled aggressively.

Jayasuriya, who began the innings needing 33 to achieve the 10,000-run mark in ODIs, fell leg-before to left-armer Deighton Butler. Xavier Marshall brought off an extraordinary diving catch in the covers to send back Kumara Sangakkara, who drove pacer Darren Powell uppishly.

The turning point, however, was pacer Dwayne Smith's double strike off consecutive deliveries to send back opener Upul Tharanga, who led a charmed life, and Tillakaratne Dilshan.

The tall off-spinner Omari Banks, and later Narsingh Deonarine, displayed control in the middle and end overs, as West Indies, fielding without skipper Chanderpaul who was down with a viral infection, had Sri Lanka pinned down. Vice-captain Joseph led admirably.

Left-hander Russel Arnold, who scored a fighting half-century, marched on with the tail before being the last-man out, bowled around his legs by Deonarine.

Earlier, Chanderpaul's presence at the top of the order lent the innings the much-needed stability. The skipper had batted at No. 5 in the first two matches, when the West Indies suffered due to top-order collapses.

The Guyanese left-hander, opening for the 50th occasion in 178 one-day Internationals, batted through half the innings.

Good partnership

Xavier Marshall departed early, when Tharanga caught him short of the crease at the non-striker's end with a direct hit from mid-on, but Chanderpaul (57) found able support in Sylvester Joseph (58) and the two put on 72 in 96 deliveries for the second wicket, after the visitor opted to bat.

Chanderpaul stepped up the scoring after the fifth over, picking up boundaries off Zoysa and his new-ball partner Farveez Maharoof. But it was the manner in which he handled off-spinner Muralitharan that was truly impressive, using his feet handsomely.

Joseph had failed in the earlier matches. But the Antiguan batted with refreshing freedom as he took over the mantle of the senior partner after the skipper's exit — caught by Mahroof at point while driving leg-spinner Upul Chandana away from the body.

Joseph put on 55 off 76 deliveries with left-hander Narsingh Deonarine, as the `Men in Maroon' crossed the 150-run mark in the 36th over.

Hereabout, the West Indies lost momentum, with Muralitharan running through his second spell of six overs in a breeze, apart from scalping the dangerous Dwayne Smith, who had struck a lusty 68 in an earlier encounter, while the pacemen turned in tidy final spells. Banks was adjudged the man of the match.

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