Holder’s all-round show in vain as SL level series with historic win

Imran Khan-led Pakistan failed in 1988. Wasim Akram too failed to inspire his team to a win in 1993. Sourav Ganguly and his batch of 2002 came and failed. MS Dhoni and his conquering men couldn’t do it in 2011. Misbah-ul-Haq’s Pakistan faltered in 2017 but Sri Lanka became the first Asian side to register a win at the Kensington Oval in their first ever match at the venue.

In the third and final Test against Windies on Tuesday (June 26), Sri Lanka sealed a historic four-wicket win in Barbados to level the three-match series, having arrived at the venue 0-1 down. The visitors chased down 144 amid plenty of drama as Dilruwan Perera and Kusal Perera guided the team over the line in the first session on the fourth day.

The hosts got the day off to a promising start. Jason Holder dismissed Kusal Mendis in the very first over of the day even before Sri Lanka were able to add to their overnight score. At 81 for 6, they were still 63 shy of the target with just one recognised batting pair left in their wings. Kusal, who suffered a nasty collision at the boundary in the third session on the third day, walked out to join Dilruwan.

With the ball not doing as much as it did under lights, the Sri Lankan pair took the team forward with relative ease. Their unbeaten 63-run stand kept Holder and the other Windies bowlers at bay. Kusal played through discomfort while Dilruwan offered some stern resistance even as Windies threw every single challenge they had in their bag.

Windies will probably rue not coming up with a better batting performance in their second essay. They were shot down for just 93 after taking a handy 50-run first-innings lead. Holder had an exceptional match as he scored 74 in the first innings and then picked up nine wickets in the match before the visitors ensured his lone hand wasn’t enough for Windies to seal the series.

Brief scores: Windies 204 (Jason Holder 74; Lahiru Kumara 4-58) & 93 (Kasun Rajitha 3-20) lost to Sri Lanka 154 (Niroshan Dickwella 42; Holder 4-19) & 144/6 (Kusal Perera 28*; Holder 5-41) by four wickets.

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