Chandana blazes Sri Lanka to remarkable victory

Sri Lanka 313 for 6 (Chandana 89) beat West Indies 312 for 4 (Lara 116, Gayle 94) by four wickets

Upul Chandana scored a brilliant career-best 89 as Sri Lanka pulled off a sensational four-wicket victory against West Indies to clinch the three-match series. Sri Lanka had looked dead and buried after Brian Lara's 116 had powered West Indies to a mammoth 312 in their 50 overs, the highest ever score at the Kensington Oval, but Sri Lanka produced the perfect chase, winning a last-over thriller with three balls to spare.
Chandana has sat on the Sri Lanka bench in recent times, but he guaranteed himself an extended run in the side here. He had a nightmare with the ball, conceding 40 runs in just four overs, but then played the innings of a lifetime after being promoted up the order, hitting four sixes and six fours in his 71-ball 89.

Sri Lanka's run chase had started well with Sanath Jayasuriya creaming the off-side boundary hoardings on his way to 41 from 35 balls. Romesh Kaluwitharana, his similarly combustible opening partner, chugged along at a good lick too, as 71 runs came from the first 65 balls.

However, the entry of Samuels' part-time offbreaks into the attack in the ninth over brought the breakthrough, as Jayasuriya skewed a catch to Vasbert Drakes at backward point (71 for 1). Kaluwitharana (34 from 36 balls) followed soon after following a mid-pitch hesitation and a direct hit from Ricardo Powell (78 for 2).

Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara were forced into a period of consolidation. They should both have been dismissed early on, as West Indies' fielders floored a handful of chances, but they gradually settled to add 75 for the third wicket and keep Sri Lanka in the hunt.

When Atapattu was run out for 47 from 54 balls by a direct hit from by Sarwan, Sri Lanka gambled on the promotion of Chandana (153 for 3). He played cautiously at first, but soon had the score ticking over with a mixture of quick singles, scampered twos and old-fashioned biffs over the leg-side.

Chandana added 39 runs with Sangakkara, before Drakes broke through in his first over, as Sangakkara top-edged a pull having scored 31 from 56 balls (192 for 4). But Chandana pushed on with Mahela Jayawardene, reaching his third one-day fifty off just 47 balls. With 10 overs remaining Sri Lanka needed 92 runs for victory. Their chances improved as 17 runs were smashed off the 42nd over.

As clouds gathered over the stadium, West Indies seriously contemplated defeat for the first time as Sri Lanka moved ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis target. When rain interrupted play in the 43rd over, Sri Lanka needed 63 from 44 balls.

When they returned, West Indies' inexperienced fielders buckled under the pressure. A succession of run outs were missed, catches were floored and the ground fielding was dreadful. Chandana eventually lofted a catch to deep square but by then Sri Lanka were in charge.
Sri Lanka needed 18 runs from the last two overs and Drakes started with a no-ball that was clipped to the boundary. Drakes did take the wicket of Jayawardene (32), but Sri Lanka held their nerve in the last over, scoring the last four runs required in the first three balls.

A young West Indies side were left wondering what had gone wrong. They had looked the only winners after the last 11 overs of their innings, when Lara and Samuels cut loose, flogging 109 runs from just 55 balls in a pyrotechnic fifth-wicket stand. Samuels played an important hand, thrashing 56 from 36 balls, but it was Lara who really whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

Back in his customary No. 3 position, Lara rode his luck early on, as Billy Bowden missed a clear inside edge off his third ball, but then played a faultless innings. He played watchfully at the start, ticked along in the middle and then exploded in the slog overs.

Lara added 137 for the second wicket with Chris Gayle (94), who was also given a reprieve by Bowden. The pair concentrated on survival against the new ball before asserting their authority against Sri Lanka's spinners. Nevertheless, at the mid-innings point, the game was still well-balanced with West Indies on 99 for 1.

The dismissal of Gayle and Ramaresh Sarwan (3) triggered the final charge, as Lara clicked into overdrive, racing to his 17th one-day century with a stream of imperious shots. Samuels was equally audacious at the other end, striking six fours and one six of his own. An astonishing 136 runs were plundered from the last 11 overs and the match looked buried. But no-one had reckoned on Chandana's heroics.