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.
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