Fiery Gabriel softens Kusal
As a batsman, Kusal Perera's favourite scoring area is behind square on the leg side. And so with Shannon Gabriel, clocking in excess of 145 clicks quite regularly, he looked to use the pace and simply lend direction. All of it, of course, seems easier on paper than out on the field. Gabriel proved why.
First, Kusal was struck flush on his toe by a yorker, which demanded medical attention. Kusal, in visible discomfort immediately after coping the blow, decided the best way out was to counterattack. Seeing Kusal walk across, Gabriel speared a superb yorker at serious pace on leg stump. Kusal overbalanced in his attempt to flick and was late on the shot. By the time his bat came down, the ball had crashed into the middle and leg stumps.
Dickwella brings out the 'Dilscoop'
It was in Zimbabwe, over 17 years ago, that Tillakaratne Dilshan broke through in international cricket. On Wednesday, Dilshan, perhaps watching his mates from the comfort of his couch, may have grinned ear to ear when he saw Niroshan Dickwella play a shot named after him. Seeing the batsman swing freely to full deliveries, Carlos Brathwaite shortened his length and bowled a slow offcutter. Dickwella was already down on one knee, trying to use the pace and paddle it fine. But with the ball not coming on at the pace he would have liked, a delicate little deflection was turned into a full-blooded scoop with the bat moving upwards in a lovely little arc in a fraction of a second or two. He found the middle too, clearing short fine leg to get a boundary.
Cheeky attempt thwarts Kusal
Kusal Mendis' dismissal was somewhat like that of a man who walked blindfolded on a highway, only to be run over by a cycle. Adventurous in his outlook at the crease, he first fetched a slog-sweep off Ashley Nurse from outside off to hit it into bleachers at cow corner. Then he got down on one knee and swung a full delivery for six over long-on. He was suddenly six short of a maiden ODI ton. Seeing the batsman line him up for a third hit, Nurse shortened his length and fired it wide. Kusal re-adjusted and tried to run the ball past the keeper, but could only manage a faint nick. And with that the wait for a maiden ODI hundred continued.
Lakmal's three-card trick
One didn't know whether it was a deliberate plan from Suranga Lakmal to test Johnson Charles with three different deliveries in the eighth over of the chase, but it worked. First up, a full ball was drilled down the ground for four. Then he dug one short, seemingly in an attempt to target his ribcage. The ball didn't bounce as high as he would have liked. Charles shuffled across and helped it along to fine leg. Then, he unleashed a slow offcutter, which foxed Charles. The batsman was through with the swing even before the ball arrived, and toe-ended a catch to Upul Tharanga at mid-off.
Of mix-ups and missed opportunities
Evin Lewis had just got past a hundred and was cramping. The frustration of a few swings and misses resulted in him attempting cheeky runs. He survived a run-out chance on 114 when Dickwella dislodged the bails before he could collect the ball cleanly from the cover fielder. He continued to swing his way to make 148 before being stranded mid-pitch courtesy a mix-up with his captain Jason Holder, with West Indies slipping to 262 for 6, needing 69 off 57 balls. Sri Lanka's fielding nightmares extended into the end-overs when Upul Tharanga put down a skier at mid-on to reprieve Carlos Brathwaite on 3.
Both the missed opportunities may have cost Sri Lanka on another day, but on the face of pressure, West Indies wilted again, much like they did in the previous game, against Zimbabwe, that resulted in a tie.