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Maharoof wrecks West Indies

By Deepti Patwardhan
Last updated on: August 02, 2005 22:04 IST


Sri Lankan paceman Fervez Maharoof bowled an incredible spell of three wickets for nine runs in ten overs to rock the West Indies top order and ensure a 50-run victory for his side in the third league match of the tri-series at the Rangiri Dambulla International stadium on Tuesday.

The fine effort won him the man-of-the-match award.

After being reduced to 39 for five, the West Indies staged a strong fightback but could only finish with 191 runs in 45.1 overs. That was mainly through a steely knock of 68 by Dwayne Smith, though it was not enough to save the bonus point.

Earlier, Sri Lanka rode on half-centuries by Marvan Atapattu and Kumara Sangakkara to post 241 for six in their allotted 50 overs.

The West Indies have now conceded the bonus point in both the matches of the triangular tournament.

Sri Lanka innings:

The third match of the IndianOil Cup was played on the same strip that hosted the opening game, between India and Sri Lanka. Despite the wicket assisting bowlers early on, Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu elected to bat after winning the toss.

The home side was without Sanath Jayasuriya, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, sustained on Saturday in the match against India. Left-handed batsman Upul Tharanga was thus rewarded with his first One-Day International cap and opened the innings with Atapattu.

The West Indies brought in Ryan Ramdass and Deighton Butler in place of Runako Morton and Darren Powell. The 31-year-old debutant Butler stuck to a disciplined line and length and got the West Indies the breakthrough with the wicket of Tharanga.

Though looking confident on debut, Tharanga scored only six runs before he was out leg before wicket to Butler. The ball pitched outside the off-stump and seamed in to hit him on the back foot, in front of the off-stump. (11-1).

Jermaine Lawson was aggressive, but most of the time bowled too short. The West Indies bowlers were able to keep a tab on the runs but none of them looked threatening for Atapattu and Kumara Sangakkara.

Once the field restrictions were off, the batsmen used the gaps and drove over the in-field for easy ones and twos. Sangakkara was the more attacking of the two, but Atapattu, after initial hesitation, collected his runs with ease. His fifty, which came off 83 balls, included only three fours while he ran 36 singles.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Sangakkara was let off on 27, when a looped shot off his leading edge was dropped by the bowler, Tino Best. The 27-year-old Sangakkara, playing on his home ground, reached his 50 off 88 balls.

The batsmen were growing in confidence, going for their shots after the 30th over and West Indies appeared to run out of bowling options. The four-pronged pace attack failed to make maximum use of the initial moisture in the wicket and the wind blowing across the ground.

Sangakkara used the pull and sweep shot to great effect, hitting six fours to the leg-side. With the partnership going steady, he tried to innovate against the part-time bowling of Narsingh Deonarine and Ricardo Powell.

After escaping two near fatal chances, Sangakkara was out, meekly offering an easy catch to West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul at cover off Deonarine. (149-2).

The stand between Sangakkara and Atapattu lasted 138 runs.

Twenty-five year old Dilhara Lokuhettige made an impressive debut against India, taking two wickets and scoring 21 runs. But the beginner's delight faded quickly as Deonarine claimed his second scalp.

Lokuhettige danced down the track to the off-spinner, ready to launch into a big one, but the ball went straight on and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin completed the stumping. (171-3).

Lawson and Best were reintroduced into the attack and had a harder ball at their disposal as the older one lost its colour. Butler had exhausted his overs in an unchanged first spell.

Sri Lanka though couldn't make most of the solid foundation laid by Atapattu and Sangakkara as they lost three quick wickets in successive overs.

First Atapattu (70) was given run-out on a dubious call (191-4); Jayawardene (16) was bowled by a yorker by Best (194-5) and Tillekaratne Dilshan was done in by a direct it from Dwayne Smith (205-6).

The acceleration never really came for the hosts and they scored just 34 runs in the last five overs, with four wickets in hand.

Lawson bowled an ideal length for the slog overs, keeping the ball up to the batsmen and not giving them any room to free their arms. Best was a trifle short but made up for the yards with his pace.

Russell Arnold (21) and Upul Chandana (19) were the unbeaten batsmen as Sri Lanka ended their innings on 241.

West Indies innings

Experience would never be the yardstick when the West Indies batsmen took on the Sri Lankan bowlers. Caribbean brashness simply couldn't live up to the young and aggressive bowling. Fervez Maharoof, the lanky 21-year-old, consistently attacked the off-stump of the right-handers and got just enough seam movement to outwit the batsmen.

The result spelt disaster for the West Indies. Their batsmen were dismissed even before they could raise their hand to mark attendance.

Debutant Ryan Ramdass was Maharoof's first victim. The ball pitched outside off and moved in as Ramdass chopped it on the stumps. (4-1)

Xavier Marshall was done in by a delivery that moved out and carried a faint edge to the `keeper. (18-2).

By the seventh over, the batsmen had already pressed the panic button. Sylvetser Joseph picked Lokuhettige off the legs and scooped the ball to Maharoof at fine-leg, but the fielder spilled the chance. Failing to learn from his mistakes, Joseph played the same shot off the last ball of the over. The ball rose higher and was falling short as Maharoof dived and held on to the ball just inches from the ground. (21-3)

Captain Chanderpaul attempted a positive innings, hitting three boundaries in his 14. Lokuhettige got him out of the way with a yorker length delivery. Chanderpaul, trying to drive, sent a leading edge straight to the bowler. (36-4).

Ricardo Powell followed soon after. He was bowled by Maharoof's off-cutter. (39-5)

Maharoof's accuracy on the night could've drawn parallels with Glenn McGrath's precision. That would be enough indication of the bowler's effort in only his 20th one-day international.

At the end of his 10-over spell, his figures read three wickets for nine runs.

Lokuhettige, also keeping things tight, multiplied the West Indies' problems. The Sri Lankan medium pacers did the job so well that a below par performance by Muttiah Muralitharan went unnoticed.

The off-spinner was hit for 22 runs in his first spell of four overs. Narsingh Deonarine, who made his ODI debut on Sunday against India, especially, negotiated the star bowler well. Deonarine covered for the spin and played another patient knock of 23 from 44 balls.

Dilhara Fernando, coming first change, carried on the exceptional work by his younger pace partners, Maharoof and Lokuhettige, and got the wicket of Deonarine. (75-6).

Denesh Ramdin and Dwayne Smith slowed down the collapse with a 46-run partnership for the seventh wicket. The West Indian lower order has shown more spine in the two games of the tournament than their top batsmen.

Despite Ramdin's departure, Smith fought to delay defeat. He hit Chandana and Muralitharan with the spin and brought up his first ODI fifty with a flat six over mid-wicket off Chandana in 84 balls. On two occasions before that, the batsman was denied maximum as the ball bounced just short of the fence.

Smith was finding the mid-wicket fence with regularity and added some steel to the West Indian reply. He took Chandana apart in the 43rd over. First he flicked the ball in the space between mid-wicket and long-on for four, then lofted it to long-on; fielder Tharanga caught the ball one-hand then threw it back in when he realized he would trip over the boundary.

Smith's next shot came out of Hansie Cronje's book, as he bent down on one knee and hit the ball over mid-wicket boundary. The next ball he reverse swept Chandana for a four.

After scoring 16 runs in that over, Smith was bowled trying to defend against Muralitharan's attempt to end a gutsy knock. The Lankan spinner turned the ball square and it rolled onto the stumps as Smith tried to fend it off the back foot.

Butler, who at 31 has the experience of just 35 first-class games, slogged the Sri Lankans for a while.

The lower order had nothing to lose, and even though the first ten overs had almost put them out of the game they tried hard to avoid giving the bonus point to Sri Lanka.

But they fell just two runs short of that target too when Dilshan had Lawson stumped to wrap the West Indies innings on 191.

India had already taken off a bonus point from the West Indies on Sunday.

Deepti Patwardhan