A wake-up call

SANJAY RAJAN

Dwayne Smith traps Tillekeratne Dilshan in front. It was a crucial wicket.-V.V. KRISHNAN

DWAYNE SMITH'S twin strike sunk Sri Lanka in what was the biggest upset in the IndianOil Cup in the Emerald Isle.

"I think those two wickets did the damage. And the shot that I played, it happened at a crucial time. If I had batted longer with (Russel) Arnold, may be things would have been different," said Sri Lanka's stand-in skipper Mahela Jayawardene about the 33-run defeat at the hands of the West Indies at the Premadasa Stadium on August 6.

"It is those kind of mistakes that we cannot afford. We need to perform together on a day and not depend on individual performances. We have not been able to do it as a team," said the middle-order batsman, who, in the company of Upul Chandana scripted that sensational victory over India earlier in the week.

Chasing 227 for victory, Sri Lanka was reduced to 92 for five and couldn't quite recover thereafter. The match, as such, was inconsequential to the host, which had qualified for the final with a round to spare.

Sri Lanka rested Marvan Atapattu — Sanath Jayasuriya played instead — while pacemen Dilhara Lokuhettige and Pradeep Jayaprakashdaran made way for Muttiah Muralitharan and Nuwan Zoysa.

"I don't think we were complacent. We've always wanted to win. West Indies bowled well, especially off-spinner Omari Banks, who kept the ball in the right areas and built the pressure," said Jayawardene, who suffered his first defeat in five ODIs as captain.

The win by Shivnarine Chanderpaul's boys threw open the tri-series, as the concluding league clash between India and the Men in Maroon on the following afternoon was a virtual semifinal.

Sylvester Joseph and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were involved in a fruitful partnership.-AP

Chanderpaul's presence at the top of the order lent the innings the much-needed stability. The skipper had batted at No. 5 in the first two matches, when the West Indies suffered due to top-order collapses.

The Guyanese left-hander (57), opening for the 50th occasion in 178 one-day internationals, batted through half the innings, as the West Indies, opting to bat, put up what was a fighting total in these conditions. Chanderpaul did not field due to a viral infection.

Opener Xavier Marshall departed early, but Chanderpaul found able support in Sylvester Joseph (58) and the two put on 72 in 96 deliveries for the second wicket.

Joseph had failed in the earlier matches. But the Antiguan batted with refreshing freedom as he took over the mantle of the senior partner after the skipper's exit. He put on 55 off 76 deliveries with left-hander Narsingh Deonarine, as the side crossed the 150-run mark by the 36th over.

West Indies, however, lost the momentum when Muralitharan ran though his second spell of six overs in a breeze.

On Chanderpaul's decision to open the batting, vice-captain Joseph said, "As skipper he wanted to take more responsibility. Our plan was that one from the top-order would bat till the end," said Joseph, who led in Chanderpaul's absence.

Narsingh Deonarine sends Nuwan Zoysa back to the dressing room.-AP

"The situation is very difficult when you play with a second string team. We truly missed the experienced ones. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity for us to come out and show that we are a capable line-up. We planned to keep as many wickets as possible in hand till the end. We applied ourselves. It showed that when we do that we can win games," Joseph said.

It was the side's only victory on the tour. "We'd been working very hard during this time. This was a big occasion for us. We took time to adjust. It (the win) means a lot and was very satisfying — a tremendous feeling," Joseph said.

"I told the boys to keep the pressure on, and we stuck to our task. I thought we bowled in the right areas. If you do that in one-day games, you will definitely win matches," Joseph added.

The host was 64 for two in the 15th over, still in with a chance. Then came pacer Smith's two wickets off consecutive deliveries to send back opener Upul Tharanga (bowled) and Tillekeratne Dilshan (leg-before).

The pacemen had done their job, and Omari Banks, the tall off-spinner from Leeward Islands, complemented their efforts by maintaining the pressure in the middle-overs.

"I tried to not give the batsmen room to play their shots. I concentrated on keeping the ball in the right areas," said Banks.

Left-hander Arnold, who scored a fighting half-century, marched on with the tail before being the last-man out, bowled around his legs by off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine.

Sri Lanka's coach, Tom Moody, said the loss was a timely wake-up call. "We didn't play as well as we could have. The team had a successful run over the last month and today we played well below par. We will have to take it in a positive way," said the Australian.

"I thought our fast bowlers bowled well early on. We were beating the bat quite regularly. I guess we lacked a little bit of consistency. You have to give credit to where it is due as well. The West Indies batted well up front, particularly Chanderpaul. He appeared unwell, nevertheless led from the front and got the momentum going for his team. The rest of the players rallied around him. But we pulled it back, really, towards the end when the West Indies was on target for 250," Moody added.

Moody sounded particularly impressed with all-rounder Ferveez Maharoof. "He's young and talented. We've got a lot of confidence in him. Every opportunity he's getting, he's learning and to me, we need to continue to invest time in such players. He has shown real maturity and taken huge responsibility with the new ball when (Chaminda) Vaas was sidelined by injury. He's a useful lower-order bat as well," he said.

The Australian did not think batting first at Premadasa is an advantage. "I'd say it isn't a `win the toss win the game' situation."

The scores

West Indies: X. Marshall (run out) 8, S. Chanderpaul c Mahroof b Chandana 57, S. Joseph (run out) 58, N. Deonarine lbw b Chandana 21, O. Banks (run out) 33, D. Smith lbw b Muralitharan 13, R. Powell (run out) 8, T. Best (not out) 12, D. Butler (not out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-6, w-9) 16. Total (for seven wkts, 50 overs) 226.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-97, 3-152, 4-165, 5-189, 6-206, 7-224.

Sri Lanka bowling: Zoysa 8-0-47-0, Mahroof 9-3-35-0, Fernando 9-2-34-0, Muralitharan 10-2-31-1, Chandana 10-1-49-2, Dilshan 4-0-23-0.

Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga b Smith 25, S. Jayasuriya lbw b Butler 23, K. Sangakkara c Marshall b D. Powell 7, M. Jayawardene c D. Powell b Banks 22, T. Dilshan lbw b Smith 0, R. Arnold b Deonarine 59, U. Chandana c (sub) Morton b Banks 4, F. Mahroof c Ramdin b Best 20, N. Zoysa b Deonarine 9, M. Muralitharan c Marshall b D. Powell 1, D. Fernando (not out) 3; Extras (lb-3, nb-7, w-10) 20. Total (47 overs) 193.

Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-64, 3-73, 4-73, 5-92, 6-107, 7-140, 8-163, 9-171.

West Indies bowling: Best 8-0-40-1, Butler 7-0-39-1, D. Powell 9-1-28-2, Dwayne Smith 9-0-41-2, Banks 10-1-24-2, Deonarine 4-0-18-2.