Darren Bravo’s magnificent century helped guide the West Indies to a five wicket success over Sri Lanka in the 3rd One Day International (ODI) at Antigua’s Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on 14 March.
The left-handed Trinidad & Tobago batsman, who missed the recent tour to Bangladesh, celebrated his call-up for the 1st Test against Sri Lanka with a match-winning 102 off 132 balls in the thriller.
Victory in the trio of ODIs secured the first points for the Caribbean side, who failed miserably in the format in New Zealand late last year and recently in Bangladesh. These matches form part of the ICC Super League and give the Windies a fighting chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals.
The hosts continued their promising form, fresh from having reeled off victory in all three Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) against Sri Lanka at Antigua’s Coolidge Cricket Ground. They have now won all six matches against Sri Lanka, with two intriguing and mouth-watering Tests to follow.
They will introduce a new captain for the Tests, with Kraigg Brathwaite replacing Barbados compatriot and all rounder Jason Holder.
Yet the ODI series was a different type of match to the T20s at the more familiar setting in North Sound. The eerily empty purpose-built venue was witness to over 1,000 runs but wickets were never easy to come by.
Victory in the final ODI was secured with just nine balls remaining, as Sri Lanka confidently stroked the ball around to amass 274-5 from their 50 overs with Trinidad’s Akeal Hosein (3-33) the pick of the bowlers. A run out plus a wicket apiece for Alzarri Joseph (Antigua) and Jason Mohammed (Trinidad & Tobago) clearly showed where the weakness lies for the Windies.
In response Evin Lewis (Trinidad) was the first victim, scoring just 13, but wicketkeeper Shai Hope (Barbados) steadied the innings with 64 off 72 balls and Bravo fell at 249-5 after 46.1 overs. It was far from a stroll to register their latest win.
The hosts dominated the series and extended their unbeaten run to eight matches. The Windies raced away to success in the opening ODI encounter on 10 March, where they scored an eight wicket win courtesy of impressive knocks from Hope (110) and Lewis (65). The pair made a first wicket partnership of 143, but both ended up back in the pavilion after each being clean bowled by Dushmantha Chameera.
It was the Windies who were demons with the ball. A bizarre and controversial decision of obstruction saw captain Dimuth Karunaratne (55) adjudged to be out, which broke the opening wicket partnership at 105. Skipper Kieran Pollard (Trinidad) caught and bowled Danushka Gunathilaka (52), which started the ball rolling as the visitors slumped from 112-2 to finish on 232 all out after 49 overs.
The hosts were in cruise control in response and, after both openers were dismissed, it was left to Bravo (37) and Mohammed (11) to reach the target with three overs to spare.
For the fifth consecutive time in this tour Sri Lanka batted first, as the Windies secured a tightly-fought 2nd ODI victory on 12 March.
Gunathilaka was clean bowled by Mohammed (3-47) four runs short of his century at 150-4 off 29.4 overs. But the tourists put up some resilience to finish with a creditable 273-8 from their allotted 50 overs.
In response Hope (84) and Lewis (103) dominated, as the openers made an incredible 192-run partnership, until Lewis was dismissed after Dinesh Chandimal stumped him off Lakshan Sandakan’s bowling.
Unperturbed the Windies reached 279-5 with just two balls remaining, Nicholas Pooran (Trinidad) notching an unbeaten 35 in 38 deliveries.
The Windies have been on a roll since last month’s remarkable Test success in Bangladesh, when Braithwaite was given the nod as Holder opted out of the tour due to fatigue and concerns about the COVID-19 protocols in place.
Braithwaite’s succcess was rewarded as he was announced as the new captain, with Holder relieved of his duties after a less than impressive five-and-a-half year stint.
Yet Holder and left-handed batsman Bravo, who both missed the 2-0 victorious Test series in Bangladesh, have returned to the 1st Test squad for the opening match to be played behind closed doors at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium from 21-25 March.
Jamaica’s Jermaine Blackwood will be the vice captain, with compatriots Nkrumah Bonner and John Campbell also included in the 1st Test squad.
WEST INDIES v SRI LANKA (all matches in Antigua)
3 March | 1st T20I (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 4 wickets
Sri Lanka 131-9 (20 overs), WI 134-6 (13.1 overs)
5 March | 2nd T20I (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
Sri Lanka beat WI by 43 runs
Sri Lanka 160-6 (20 overs), WI 117 all out (18.4 overs)
7 March | 3rd T20I (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets
Sri Lanka 131-4 (20 overs), WI 134-7 (19 overs)
10 March | 1st ODI (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 8 wickets
Sri Lanka 232 all out (49 overs), WI 236-2 (47 overs)
12 March | 2nd ODI (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets
Sri Lanka 273-8 (50 overs), WI 274-5 (49.4 overs)
14 March | 3rd ODI (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets
Sri Lanka 274-6 (50 overs), WI 276-5 (48.3 overs)
17-18 March | Friendly (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
21-25 March | 1st Test Match (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
29 March-2 April | 2nd Test Match (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI SQUAD FOR 1st TEST | Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican.
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