Sri Lanka wrapped up a crushing 57-run win over a disappointingly lacklustre West Indies in Barbados after Mahela Jayawardene’s sublime unbeaten 98 from 56 balls took them to 195 for 3. Jayawardene took full toll of a shambolic West Indian fielding performance in a 166-run partnership for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara – the highest of the tournament so far – and when Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle fell early in West Indies’ chase, the fight went from their batsmen.
Batting was expected to be difficult on a slow and low pitch in Providence but the touch artist Mahela Jayawardene sparkled with a delightful ton, only the fourth batsman to hit a Twenty20 hundred, to charge Sri Lanka to 173. A heavy downpour after one over into the chase left Zimbabwe needing 104 from 11 initially, but it rained again to terminate the match after five overs were completed. Sri Lanka won on the D\L method as Zimbabwe only reached 29 for 1 when the par score was 43.
Historically, when it comes to finals of triangular tournaments, Sri Lanka have had the upper hand over India, who in the last decade succeeded in winning just four in 21 finals. A familiar tale panned out in Dhaka, where a frenetic start was followed by an enthralling finish and the result was yet another tournament win for Sri Lanka over India.
A succession of bowling changes within the first eight overs of the chase indicated where the match was heading. Bangladesh, under immense pressure to defend a modest – by this tournament’s standards – 250, found themselves at the receiving end of an annihilation by Sri Lanka. Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga compiled centuries with risk-free cricket and the hosts were at the mercy of the conditions again. The decision to advance play by half an hour to protect the bowlers from the dew made no iota of difference.
Sri Lanka have called up Mahela Jayawardene to boost their injury-hit squad midway through the tri-series in Bangladesh. The team has lost the services of three men on this tour: Tillakaratne Dilshan picked up a groin injury during the first game against Bangladesh, Chamara Silva fractured his thumb during training, and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara injured his shoulder in the game against India. In addition to Jayawardene, Sri Lanka have called up the 20-year old uncapped wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal and the opener Mahela Udawatte, 23, who has played nine ODIs.
Even a bad back couldn’t slow him down. Virender Sehwag batted like the nearby Arabian Sea in high tide – and when Sri Lanka tried to plug one hole, he rushed in through the other. He ended the day 16 short of becoming the first man to score three triple-centuries in the history of Test cricket but he’d already broken a string of records – the most double-centuries by an Indian, the second-highest scorer of 250-plus scores, the most runs by an Indian in a day (breaking his own record) – and given India enough time to push for a huge lead and then an innings win. All this despite starting the innings more than half an hour into the day.
Mahela Jayawardene ground the Indian bowlers into the Ahmedabad dust, almost ruling out a defeat for Sri Lanka in the first Test. This was only the second time that Sri Lanka took a first-innings lead in India, and only the first time they crossed 450 in the country. Jayawardene’s sixth double-century, and twelfth 150, was one of his easier ones because for more than half his innings India didn’t try to take his wicket, and only towards the end was he made to work hard for singles. The bowlers were not helped by the slowness of the pitch and the indiscipline of the spinners, who managed just one wicket in 102 overs, that too a dodgy decision against Angelo Mathews.
A wonderfully composed 26th Test century from Mahela Jayawardene and a thrill-a-minute 92 from Tillakaratne Dilshan allowed Sri Lanka to dominate the opening day’s play after two early wickets from Chris Martin had given New Zealand the perfect start in overcast conditions in Galle. Thilan Samaraweera weighed in with an unbeaten 82, adding 159 with Jayawardene, and by the time the players went off for bad light, New Zealand were down for the count.
Set a massive 492 for victory, or more realistically 150 overs to survive, Sri Lanka made steady progress to 183 for 3 by the end of the penultimate day’s play. Kumar Sangakkara was still there, but with Mahela Jayawardene experiencing a very rare SSC failure and the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan unlikely to bat, Sri Lanka were up against it. Danish Kaneria was once again the standout bowler, though one of his wickets was a gift from Ian Gould.
Pakistan had a day of typical Pakistani cricket. Two of their debutants got them off to a great start, but sloppy fielding and a failure to keep a lid on the scoring meant they hadn’t run away with the game. The Sri Lankan batsmen, although never entirely comfortable in the middle, kept counterattacking, getting quick runs, making sure they got themselves a fighting total on a pitch that offered movement to bowlers of both variety.
If Pakistan were slightly ahead at the end of the innings, the last half hour, when Nuwan Kulasekara and Thilan Thushara took a wicket each, made sure the match was as balanced as it was when it started.