Fri, 03 Apr 2020

Tricky chase for SL after Hope ton, late surge

ESPNCricInfo
22 Feb 2020, 18:42 GMT+10

3:25 AM ET

West Indies 289 for 7 (Hope 115, Bravo 52, Hope 3-82) v Sri Lanka

Shai Hope laid the base with 115 off 140 balls, before Keemo Paul and Hayden Walsh Jr - West Indies' eighth-wicket pair - produced the finishing fillip, reaping 49 runs off the last 20 balls of the innings to propel the visitors to a strong total.

Although Hope had set West Indies up nicely for the death overs, with help from Darren Bravo and Roston Chase, they seemed to be losing their way towards the close, with four wickets falling between the 39th and 47th overs. Undaunted, Paul struck cleanly in the final overs, once effectively slog sweeping Isuru Udana for six over deep midwicket, before hitting him for successive fours, in the final over. Walsh Jr was immediately into boundary-hitting mode as well, wallopping Thisara Perera for a six over long on, before scooping an Udana slower ball over his shoulder for four. Paul made 32 not out off 17, and Walsh Jr 20 off 8.

Before that last burst of runs, though, Sri Lanka seemed to be performing creditably with the ball and in the field. They were energetic and efficient with their ground fielding, twice taking advantage of miscommunications between batsmen to effect two run-outs. There were no clear-cut missed chances - a rarity for Sri Lanka over the past few years. Nuwan Pradeep and Thisara Perera also delivered testing spells with the new ball, and then Udana took three wickets in quick succession in the last third of the innings.

The major disappointment, perhaps, were the spinners, who did not take a wicket between them. Lakshan Sandakan was particularly underwhelming, going at a run-a-ball in his six overs. Sri Lanka had hoped that playing two wristspinners would help them get the wickets through the middle overs - a major failing of this side over the past two years.

Earlier, Hope's innings could have ended almost as soon as it began. Second ball of the innings, he was given out when Nuwan Pradeep jagged a ball into his pads. Hope reviewed to survive on zero (the ball was projected to be heading down the leg side), and endured a few more difficult moments before he warmed to his work. Thisara nipped a ball back between bat and pad, then later beat his outside edge as well.

After the Powerplay ended, though, Hope was steady, first building a 77-run stand with Darren Bravo, who essentially ran himself out, before putting on 85 alongside Chase. Occasionally Hope would hit out, but largely he let his partners make the more aggressive moves, while he focused on turning the strike over. Against the spinners, he was prolific through midwicket, routinely taking singles in that region. Against the quicks, he generally awaited the bad balls.

He reached his fifty off the 77th ball he faced, and only mildly quickened his pace after that. The century, his ninth overall and sixth in Asia, came off his 127th delivery. With the innings now into its slog overs, Hope attempted to raise the tempo after reaching triple figures, and even struck Sandakan for successive boundaries. But attempting to sweep a legcutter from Udana in the 46th over, Hope ended up yorking himself, and the ball snuck through his legs, taking a couple of deflections, into the stumps.

Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard and Jason Holder could not impose themselves on the innings, but thanks to Paul and Walsh Jr, their failures did not mean West Indies had to settle for a sub-par score. No team has successfully chased down a target as high as 290 at the SSC.

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