Bridgetown - Kusal
Perera battled through the considerable discomfort of a painful chest
injury in partnership with namesake Dilruwan Perera to guide Sri Lanka
to an historic series-levelling four-wicket victory over the West Indies
in the third and final Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Tuesday.
Set a target of 144 and resuming on the fourth day at the overnight
position of 81 for five, Sri Lanka reached their goal for the loss of
one additional wicket to become the first Asian team ever to win a Test
match at Caribbean cricket's most iconic venue.
That wicket, which fell in the very first over of the afternoon to
West Indies captain Jason Holder, ushered in Kusal, whose further
participation in the match was in serious doubt when he injured himself
crashing into the advertising boards the previous night.
Both Kusal and Dilruwan had made only minimal contributions
previously in the three-match series with the all-rounder Dilruwan
having been dropped for the second Test while there was speculation that
Kusal, the experienced but out-of-form opening batsman, would have been
omitted from this final Test were it not for the suspension of regular
captain Dinesh Chandimal for ball tampering in the previous match in St
However they both played with great determination, weathering the
storm from the West Indies fast bowlers in an unbroken seventh-wicket
partnership of 63. Kusal finished unbeaten on 28 with Dilruwan on 23. It
was Dilruwan who made the winning hit, hoisting Holder over mid-off for
the boundary that sealed only Sri Lanka's second Test victory in the
"Me and Kusal play for the same club so we know each other," said a
delighted Dilruwan in savouring the victory. "That experience and
knowledge of each other's games helped a lot because it was challenging.
The pitch was bit uneven."
For Holder it was a cruel final twist of fate in a match in which he
excelled all-around. His dismissal of Kusal Mendis, leg-before without
adding to his overnight score of 25, was his fifth wicket of the innings
and he finished with innings figures of five for 41 and a match
analysis of nine for 59.
Holder also contributed a top score of 74 in the West Indies first
innings of 204 and was just one of four batsmen to get into
double-figures when they crashed to 93 - their lowest-ever total in a
Test innings in Barbados - on the third evening.
He was the obvious choice as "Man of the Match," small consolation for his team failing to finish the job.
"We just did not have enough runs in the second innings," Holder
reflected. "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."
Despite that early success, which raised hopes for the West Indies
mowing through the tail in the same manner of 24 hours earlier in Sri
Lanka's first innings, none of the other bowlers could match their
skipper's probing accuracy and penetration.
Shannon Gabriel failed to add to his series-leading tally of 20
wickets while the experienced Kemar Roach and seamer Miguel Cummins
lacked potency when it was most needed for the home side to clinch their
first series victory in six years against a team ranked higher than
"Our second innings bowling won us the game," said Sri Lanka coach
Chandika Hathurusingha. "We always had hope but the way the game
progressed we were under pressure. Credit to all four bowlers. Suranga
(Lakmal) led from the front."
Charged with the responsibility of leadership for the first time at
senior international level, Lakmal could not disguise the delight at his
"I didn't expect to be made captain but I thought it was a good
opportunity to lead and I took it," he said. "I'm happy with my
contributions but all the bowlers did very well."