West Indies v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, St Lucia April 15, 2008

Rain curtails West Indies chase

Sri Lanka 257 for 8 (Udawatte 73, Dilshan 64) v West Indies 81 for 2 - match abandoned
Scorecard


Denesh Ramdin brilliantly stumps Sri Lanka's top scorer Mahela Udawatte for 73 © Brooks La Touche
 
A series of increasingly heavy showers caused the third and final ODI in St Lucia to be abandoned, leaving West Indies 2-0 winners of a series which started with a thriller but ended in a damp squib.

There had been one shower much earlier in the day, but a brief downpour sent everyone scurrying from the field with West Indies trundling along and only ten balls needed for Duckworth-Lewis calculations to come into play. The mopping up was almost complete when a second squall brought the tarpaulins back, and soon after a third cloudburst was heavy enough to empty the stands and bring an early end to the night.

The shame was the game was bubbling up nicely with West Indies on 81 for 2 chasing 258 for a series whitewash. Sewnarine Chattergoon's breezy 46 had got the innings off to a rattling start but Sri Lanka were nevertheless in the box seat as on a lifeless pitch with variable bounce, their slow bowlers would have been desperately hard to get away, much as Chris Gayle had been earlier in the day. West Indies would have been further hampered by Gayle's absence, a passenger after limping off with a groin strain shortly after finishing his bowling stint.

Sri Lanka had done well to reach 257 for 8 after a poor start, fifties from 21-year-old opener Mahela Udawatte and Tillakaratne Dilshan reviving what had seemed set to be a rather moribund effort.

On an outfield slowed down by the first shower, Sri Lanka, who were stuck in by Gayle, struggled to time their shots during the three back-to-back Powerplays, and when they slid to 44 for 3 after 12 overs, a below-par score seemed on the cards.

The loss of Kumar Sangakkara, perishing to a leading edge in the second over, set the innings back on its heels, and it stuttered along until the crowd were woken by a brilliant juggling catch by Daren Powell at short fine-leg, stretching high above his head to parry a flick from Mahela Jayawardene up before twisting to clutch the rebound behind him as he fell. Ten balls later and Sri Lanka's problems grew when Chamara Silva was tamely strangled down the leg side by Powell.

Udawatte and Chamara Kapugedera regrouped before finally showing attacking intent, the highlight being a sweetly-timed swish by Udawatte, in only his third ODI, a dozen rows back over midwicket.


An almost full house in St Lucia © Brooks La Touche
 
If Sri Lanka were not firing on all four cylinders then neither were West Indies, whose groundfielding, not helped by the damp and slippery surface, was mediocre. They were grateful to the no-frills offspin of Gayle, who took 2 for 41 in his ten overs and never allowed the batsmen to get on top in the middle overs. He removed Kapugedera, chipping lamely back after being frustrated into an indiscretion, and the impressive Udawatte, well stumped off a leg-side wide.

The platform laid, Dilshan and Kaushalya Weeraratne then began to cut loose in a spirited sixth-wicket stand of 79 in 9.2 overs, initially pushing singles with Dilshan not hitting his first boundary until he was in his forties - there was a 15-over spell midway through without a four or a six. But so well did they find spaces that the rate chugged along, and then rose as the boundaries came in a frantic final ten overs.

The inevitable late flurry of wickets came too late to stem the flow, and the lively and loud crowd seemed set to be rewarded with an entertaining second half of the evening. As it was, they went home damp and disappointed.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo