Chanderpaul and Samuels seal series for West Indies
West Indies 125 for 3 (Samuels 54*, Chanderpaul 52*) beat Sri Lanka 112 for 5 (Gayle 2-6) by 7 wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Shivnarine Chanderpaul came to West Indies' rescue for the second time in three days, cracking an unbeaten 52 to guide his side to a seven-wicket victory in Trindad that also won them the series.
It may not have matched Thursday for drama, but West Indies can be proud of dominating Sri Lanka for most of the day. Their bowlers, led by the increasingly mature Jerome Taylor, tied Sri Lanka in knots while the batsmen for once coped with the jolt of losing three early wickets. They cantered home in the end, but two hours beforehand the match was heading for a soggy conclusion as the clouds evacuated a torrent of rain on the Queen's Park Oval. Such is the superb drainage at the ground that play was able to resume, though cricket's favourite double act, Duckworth and Lewis, revised West Indies' total to a rather generous 125 from 25 overs.
Predictably, they did their best to make a meal of it. Nuwan Kulasekara exposed Dwayne Bravo's gaping gate, cutting one back to bowl him, and Chris Gayle wellied the same bowler straight to mid-on to leave them tottering on 15 for 2. Kulasekara wasn't finished: he trapped Ramnaresh Sarwan in front for 1, and West Indies still needed 107 from 113 balls.
Enter Chanderpaul. After his nail-biting last-ball six in the first one-dayer, today's scenario was far less worrisome and he casually calmed West Indies' nerves, nudging and nurdling singles before exploding when the loose balls presented themselves. Kaushalya Weeraratne thought he had him caught behind for five but it was turned down, prompting Chanderpaul into a furious onslaught. A premeditated pull through midwicket was followed by a sweetly pinged six over deep midwicket, and he made it a trio of boundaries with a third pulled four in the same region. He and West Indies were in no mood to kowtow to Sri Lanka's medium pacers.
Meanwhile, Marlon Samuels was at his belligerent best, bashing Chaminda Vaas for consecutive fours and hoiking Kapugedera for six over midwicket, then another at long-on. West Indies were racing towards their target, and Samuels made sure of it with another huge six off Sri Lanka's mystery spinner, Ajantha Mendis, who tonight was rather more earthly than his deliciously mercurial display in the first ODI. Samuels' slap for six over long-off hit the top tier of the stand, simultaneously burying Sri Lanka's spirits. Chanderpaul notched his fifty from 40 balls; Samuels' took 48 and West Indies galloped home with 27 balls to spare.
For all Chanderpaul and Samuels' ease in reaching their target, they have their bowlers to thank for restricting Sri Lanka so well. Taylor led the attack brilliantly, ably supported by Daren Powell and the pair caused all sorts of problems for Sri Lanka. Taylor took 1 for 6 in his opening spell, rarely straying from the off stump and troubling both Upul Tharanga and Mahela Udawatte. Udawatte, who fell for nought on debut two days ago, broke his international duck with a neat tuck off his hips through midwicket. There is a consensus of opinion that Udawatte is a dead ringer - stylistically at any rate - for Sanath Jayasuriya, and when he crashed Fidel Edwards for four over point, the similarities were clear. After clouting another four in the same over, he fell to a superb slower-ball from Taylor, trying to launch him over point.
Then followed a steady partnership of 40 between Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara, before the first of two rain showers interrupted proceedings. Afterwards, Sri Lanka's approach smacked of desperation and they lost 3 for 7 in 13 balls, with Gayle removing Sangakkara and Chamara Silva. It was a position from which they couldn't recover, though the second rain break didn't give them chance to make amends.
Chanderpaul won the first ODI almost singlehandedly, and again he has thwarted Sri Lanka with another match-winning knock. What price experience? It is a question which might be haunting Mahela Jayawardene and his new young side.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo