Bridgetown: Spin master Muttiah Muralidharan took three for 17 on Saturday to help Sri Lanka to a 55-run win over the West Indies in the first of three one-day Internationals.
| Sri Lankan players celebrate the dismissal of Chris Gayle in Bridgetown Saturday. Sri Lanka won by 55 runs. (AFP)
The touring side produced a dazzling mix of swing, seam and spin to dismiss the West Indies for 146, well short of their target of 202.
Brian Lara’s attempt to hold the tail together against the spin captivated the Kensington Oval crowd, but the skipper ran out of partners on 64 when last man Corey Collymore was trapped leg before by Tillekeratne Dilshan.
Lara, who moved down the batting order to number five, said he was unhappy with the apparent drop in batting standards after the recent three successive wins against Australia.
“As you can see, natural progress did not take place. If you win three matches against the world champions, then you expect to give a good performance against Sri Lanka,” said Lara.
Sri Lanka stunned the West Indies by removing both openers for ducks in a fiery early salvo.
Wavell Hinds moved too far across the line of a Prabath Nissanka delivery and was bowled by the third ball of the innings.
Then, in the third over, Chris Gayle was duped by the swing of Chaminda Vaas, edging to wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana to put the West Indies on four for two.
Ricardo Powell scored five before Vaas trapped him leg before.
Ramnaresh Sarwan went on the attack in the sixth over by driving Nissanka imperiously to the on-side boundary, but then whipped the next delivery straight to cover point where Kumar Sangakkara took a fine reflex catch.
Nissanka ended up with two for 27, and later ran out Vasbert Drakes (4).
Marlon Samuels scored his 29 runs at a brisk rate, including five boundaries, but the 22-year-old showed his inexperience by taking unnecessary risks against Sri Lanka’s in-form attack. He was caught behind lashing at Dharshana Gamage to leave the West Indies floundering at 73 for five.
Lara provided the only lasting point of resistance as the Sri Lankan spin bowlers came on to mesmerise his team’s lower order.
Ridley Jacobs tied himself in knots trying to defend against Muralidharan, but accrued 14 before clipping a catch to Mahela Jayawardene.
Muralidharan bowled David Bernard (0) by worming the ball behind the batsman’s legs, then sprung a classic trap to have Mervyn Dillon caught at slip by Maravan Atapattu.
Sri Lanka’s 201 in 48.4 overs had seemed a modest total on a lively but eminently playable Barbados wicket.
The touring team were asked to bat and struggled to settle against the fast bowlers, with Dillon posting figures of three for 39.
Kaluwitharana top-scored with a plucky but modest 54 in what appeared to be another demonstration of Sri Lanka’s often fatal batting weaknesses.
“We thought that 230 or 240 would have been a good score but we missed out about 30 runs because the middle order didn’t perform that well,” said Muralidharan, who praised Dilshan (27) and Kumar Dharmasena (40) for their role in bolstering the lower order.