Sri Lanka became the first subcontinent side in history to claim a Test victory at the famous Kensington Oval in Barbados when they pulled off an incredible four-wicket win over the West Indies in the third and final Test on Tuesday.
Chasing 144 for victory in the second innings, the Sri Lankans were reduced to 81-5 at the end of the third day’s play to set up a thrilling contest on Tuesday.
The visitors were immediately put on the backfoot on the fourth day as West Indies skipper Jason Holder dismissed Kusal Mendis in the very first over to complete his five-wicket haul.
However, an unbeaten 63-run stand between Kusal Perera and Dilruwan Perera ensured that Sri Lanka capped off a memorable victory at one of the most iconic cricket venues in the world.
That victory was even more special for the Sri Lankans given how severely handicapped they were coming into the final Test while trailing the series 0-1. Regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal had to sit out the final Test after his appeal against the one-match ban for ball-tampering was rejected by the ICC. Further, veteran spinner Rangana Herath suffered a late injury blow on the eve of the Test as Sri Lanka suffered a leadership crisis.
In their absence, fast bowler Suranga Lamkal was handed the captaincy for the final Test. The Lions were dealt another blow during the match when Kusal Perera injured himself after colliding with the advertisement hoardings on the third day.
Despite the discomfort, Perera came out to bat on the fourth day after the early dismissal of Kusal Mendis to join Dilruwan at the crease. The two Pereras showed great dedication to take the team across the finish line.
Both Dilwarun and Kusal play for the Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club back in Sri Lanka and the former said that was a factor in their winning partnership.
“Me and Kusal play for the same club so we know each other. That experience and knowledge of each other’s games helped a lot because it was challenging. The pitch was bit uneven,” Dilruwan was quoted as saying by AFP.
On the other hand, West Indies skipper Holder rued his side’s second innings performance in the defeat.
“We just did not have enough runs in the second innings. We missed some chances in the field but it won’t put us down because we have a quick turnaround for the series against Bangladesh starting next week,” the man-of-the-match said.
Lakmal, who became the first genuine pacer to captain Sri Lanka, led from the front with a five-wicket haul from the Test but gave credit to the entire bowling attack after his side’s famous victory.
Sri Lanka become the first Asian team to win a Test at Bridgetown.— Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) June 26, 2018
Also the first team to beat WI playing for the first time at Bridgetown.
It's only the second time SL have won a Test outside Asia after conceding the first innings lead. The other: v Eng, Leeds, 2014.#WIvSL
“I didn’t expect to be made captain but I thought it was a good opportunity to lead and I took it. I’m happy with my contributions but all the bowlers did very well,” Lakmal stated.
Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusingha too heaped praise on his fast bowlers for the second innings performance where they bowled out the hosts for just 93 runs.
“Our second innings bowling won us the game. I always had hope but the way the game progressed we were under pressure. Credit to all four bowlers. Suranga (Lakmal) led from the front,” the coach said on the win.
India and Pakistan have previously played 16 Tests in total at the iconic ground but failed to record a single win. Sri Lanka have gone and done it on their very first attempt which makes their victory all the more remarkable. Bangladesh are now the only subcontinent side to have not played a single Test at the venue. Though Bangladesh are set to play two Tests in the Caribbean in their upcoming tour, they will not be playing at the historic venue.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) are advocating wholesome changes in international cricket in a bid to protect the competitiveness of the game.
According to a report by the Daily Telegraph, a new proposal formulated by the West Indies Cricket Board is seeking radical changes in the distribution of funds among the members by the ICC as well as the broadcasting rights agreements currently in force.
The proposals sought by the CWI will be taken up for discussion in the upcoming ICC Annual Conference which begins in Dubai on Thursday.
“There has never been more money in the sport,” CWI chief executive Johnny Grave was quoted as saying by the publication.
“The game must adopt more equitable revenue sharing to ensure that cricket is sustainable in all countries, that the game grows throughout the world and that there is a competitive balance among teams to generate interest among fans,” he added.
The report states that international cricket is currently skewed in the favour of the Big Three – India, Australia and England. All major ICC events and tournaments in the period between 2016-23 are being held in the three countries and this, CWI believes, is highly detrimental to the competitiveness of international cricket.
West Indies are pushing for a more equitable sharing of the ICC’s revenues and major events and has further proposed that the hosting rights to every second World Twenty20 be awarded to an emerging nation.
Another key recommendation by CWI is for all international broadcast rights for a bilateral series between two full ICC members should be pooled between members and sold on a collective basis. Further, it states that the touring team should receive 20 per cent of the domestic broadcast rights.
The West Indies have argued that the Big Three already have highly lucrative broadcasting deals and thus, should allow for a more equitable sharing of ICC’s revenues among the members.
Whether these proposals by CWI are adopted at the ICC Annual Conference remains to be seen.
The UAE will continue to remain the ‘home’ of Pakistan cricket in the near future after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) arrived at an agreement.
UAE has been hosting Pakistan’s home matches since 2009 when a terrorist attack on the touring Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore left six players injured. Following that major incident, international cricket at Pakistan had come to a standstill with teams refusing to tour the country in light of the worsening security apparatus.
Pakistan has continued to hold its international home matches at Abu Dhabi and Dubai since then as well as the Pakistan Super League (PSL). While the majority of Pakistan’s home matches have continued to be held in the UAE, international cricket has been returning to Pakistan in a big way in recent times.
After the ICC World XI visited Lahore for a three-match T20I series last year, more international sides have slowly followed suit. Sri Lanka played a one-off T20I in Lahore in 2017 while the West Indies toured the country for a three-match series earlier this year.
The PSL too, has seen some big clashes take place back home in Pakistan in the past two editions. While the inaugural edition in 2016 was held completely in the UAE, the finals of the 2017 edition was specially staged at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore with several international stars making the trip.
In the last edition of the PSL, all the knock-out clashes were held back in Pakistan with the National Stadium in Karachi hosting the final. The PCB’s ultimate aim is to obviously bring back international cricket to Pakistan in its entirety, however, the UAE has continued to serve as a stop-gap measure.
In recent times, there has been friction between the two boards after the Afghanistan Premier League was announced to be held in the UAE in October at the same time as Pakistan’s home series against Australia and New Zealand.
With the rise of T10 and T20 leagues being held in the UAE, there had been uncertainty over whether the country will accommodate Pakistan’s busy international calendar completely. With this in mind, PCB chief Najam Sethi had also started exploring alternative options to the UAE with Malaysia being touted as a possible home venue. The PCB supremo had paid a visit to the South East Asian country too recently to inspect the facilities at hand.
Those doubts were dispelled on Tuesday when the two bodies reached an agreement in which the UAE will host Pakistan matches at a reduced cost.
“The PCB and ECB (Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have held fruitful discussions on matters of mutual interest,” a joint statement from the two cricketing bodies read.
“The ECB has committed to a significant reduction of the costs to Pakistan Cricket Board of holding tournaments with immediate effect,” the statement went on to add.
According to the new agreement, the UAE governing body will not host any other concurrent leagues in the country during Pakistan’s international matches and the PSL.