BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – Evin Lewis struck his first ODI century but his knock was in vain as West Indies panicked in the death overs to hand Sri Lanka a nail-biting one run win in the fifth game of the Tri-Nation Series at Queen’s Club today.
Lewis scored an enterprising 148 to keep West Indies on course for victory, while cameos from captain Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite brought the Caribbean side within striking distance.
But with ten runs needed in the final over to chase a 300-plus target successfully for the first time in ODIs, the Windies were bogged down by deliveries at the end from Nuwan Pradeep in a thrilling finish.
Sri Lanka’s win secures a spot in Sunday’s final while West Indies and Zimbabwe meet on Friday to decide which team advances.
Victory Guarantees West Indies a place in the finals while a tie or a no-result would knock Zimbabwe out.
Lewis’s maiden ODI century contained 15 fours and four sixes as he kept West Indies in line with the asking rate for most of the chase.
The Trinidad and Tobago batsman shared in two half century partnerships that powered his side’s innings to 329 for nine after the home side amassed 330 for seven after they were sent in.
He featured in an opening stand of 63 with Johnson Charles who scored 26 and 70 for the second wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite who got 16 and rode his luck several times during his backbone innings.
Lewis was dropped on 26 and 41, survived an lbw decision on 53 as well as a run out chance on 114 before he was stranded mid-pitch as a result of a mix-up with Holder.
He was one of three batsmen who went by way of the run out route, the others being Shai Hope for 25 and Jonathan Carter.
Lewis’ departure saw West Indies slipping to 262 for six with 69 needed from 57 balls until Holder and Brathwaite, who contributed 19, put together 45 runs for the seventh wicket to drag Windies within 24 runs shy of Sri Lanka’s score.
Brathwaite was one of two victims of Nuwan Kulasekara who was Sri Lanka’s top bowler with two for 72.
West Indies, who were cruising to the target for most of the game, found themselves needing 19 from ten balls, before ten runs were required from the final over.
Sulieman Benn sparked excitement in the Windies camp when he hit the second delivery of Pradeep’s over, over deep mid wicket and then holed out to sweeper cover with three needed from the final three deliveries.
Holder, who then needed three from the final ball, managed a shot to cover for a single as Sri Lanka prevailed.
Holder, who was not out on 45, also finished as the leading wicket taker for his side with three wickets for 57 runs.
Earlier, two Sri Lankan batsmen missed out on centuries by exactly six runs after the home side recovered from the loss of Kusal Perera in the third over with the score on 18.
Niroshan Dickwella 94, Kusal Mendis 94 and Dhananjaya de Silva 58 were the top scorers for Sri Lanka who lost to West Indies at the start of the series.
Afterwards Holder put their shortcomings against Sri Lanka down to the relative greenness of his squad.
“I think it’s inexperience,” Holder said. “There’s obviously situations that we’re not accustomed to being in. We’re still a relatively young side. Everybody’s trying to make their mark. And I think it boils down to inexperience, and having that know-how at the end to get us across the line. We had set up the game nicely, and Evin Lewis played an exceptional knock to put us in the situation that we were in.”
He credited the Sri Lankans for bowling well at the death, especially that final vital over.
“I was just trying to get on strike, but credit must also be given to the Sri Lankan bowlers. I thought they hit their yorkers really well, and the ball was also tailing in to the right-hander. Benn did a tremendous job to hit the six that he did, to bring the game back closer, but unfortunately he got out afterwards. The last ball was a very good ball,” he said.