The target of 242 was gettable - Smith
Dwayne Smith scored a handsome 68, his highest one-day score, and was easily West Indies' highest contributor in a match they lost by a distance, but Smith was still unhappy with his dismissal. "I got a bit lazy when I got out," he said after the game, which Sri Lanka won by 50 runs to take home the bonus point as well. "I should have stayed positive and probably I would still be batting."
The lack of support meant that Smith's contribution was only going to delay the inevitable, but in the time he was at the crease he gave some hope to West Indies and a little bit of a scare to the Sri Lankans. "I had a few hiccups to get a start and it was tough so I decided to stick it out. As long as I stayed there I knew I was going to score runs and get a win for us." Smith had threatened to break loose in the previous match as well, scoring 20 off a mere seven balls against India in an innings which included two sixes and a four.
"I just wanted to keep my eyes on the ball, see what they were doing and then decide to whack it," said Smith, who had just the tailenders to give him support as the West Indies top order collapsed once again. "242 was a gettable target. All we needed was to get partnerships. I got into two partnerships. If one of them would have carried on with me I know we would have won the game."
Smith's two stands came with Denesh Ramdin and Deighton Butler. With Ramdin he added 46 eighth wicket, with Butler, the debutant helped put together 49 for the ninth. "All I was telling Butler was to keep straight and bat as you see it."
Butler admitted that his good show with the ball had put him at ease and he was slowly enjoying the chase. "He [Smith] started to hit the ball really well and the first thing I said to him is get to his 50 first and then start again. And after the partnership started building we saw a bit of panic in Sri Lanka as they started to spread the field. We knew that if we bat all the overs we still have a chance because we did not really give up at any stage."
West Indies had done well in the field in the first half of the match, especially with their fielding which resulted in two direct hits. "Yes, we did a brilliant job with our fielding and that's one our highlight so of our cricket," Butler said. "That and our bowling went fine today. We just need our top-order batting to click and we know that we can beat anyone."
Butler, a left-hand medium pace bowler, did extremely well with the new ball, bowling ten overs on the trot and returning figures of 1 for 25, his victim being Upul Tharanga, also a debutant. Talking about his bowling effort, Butler said, "It was a bit of pressure but what I tried to do was keep it simple because I had a chat with the coaches before I went out and they told me it was another game of cricket, keep it simple with line and length. The wind was coming up strong and [they told me] not to fight the wind. A few days ago I was watching Zaheer Khan bowl from that end against Sri Lanka and that's exactly what he was doing."
If Butler handled pressure confidently, then so did. In the absence of the experienced Chaminda Vaas, Maharoof recorded his career-best figures of 10-5-9-3. "I just wanted to stick to the basics and get the job done", said Maharoof, who plays for the Bloomfield Club in Dambulla. Marvan Atapattu termed the performances of the Maharoof and Dilhara Lokuhittige as the positives of the game but felt that the team still needed to brush up on few areas. Looking ahead to tomorrow's game against India, he said that Sri Lanka would probably stick to same XI and wouldn't risk Sanath Jayasuriya and Vaas at this stage even though their recovery is progressing well.
"Sanath is fine and ready to go, but we would like to have him as much as we can on the bench so that he can have adequate rest before he can come back on the field again. Vaas has progressed well, but he has not had a 100% bowl as yet. Hopefully he will be in action in Colombo."
Nagraj Gollapudi is sub-editor of Wisden Asia Cricket