Sri Lanka seal the Sobers/Tissera Trophy series 2-0 Mendis and Embuldeniya rout West Indies

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On a pitch that did not produce the customary bounce, turn and dryness to trouble the batsmen, Sri Lanka spinners Ramesh Mendis and Lasith Embuldeniya came up with an awesome performance to bowl their team to a sensational 164-run win over West Indies on the fifth and final day of the second cricket Test at the Galle International Cricket Stadium yesterday.

Set a target of 297 for victory off 93 overs, West Indies crumbled for 132 in 56.1 overs hardly putting up the resistance they had so promisingly shown in the first innings.   

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The win ensured that Sri Lanka retained the Sobers-Tissera Trophy for which the series was played for yet another time. Michael Tissera, the former Sri Lanka captain after whom the trophy is named (with Sir Garfield Sobers) was present to hand over the silverware to Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne at the end of the match.

The Test also marked a memorable farewell to head coach Mickey Arthur who will leave for English county Derbyshire to take up a new assignment, having completed his two-year contract with Sri Lanka Cricket.

When play began on the final day, Sri Lanka resumed from their overnight 328-8 with Dhananjaya de Silva and Lasith Embuldeniya stretching their ninth wicket partnership to 124 – a new Sri Lanka record for the wicket against all Test playing nations before Jason Holder finally got through the defenses of Embuldeniya to end his innings at 39 off 124 balls, leaving De Silva unbeaten on a magnificent 155* off 262 balls (11 fours, 2 sixes). Not surprisingly Sri Lanka declared at the fall of the wicket at 345.

Sri Lanka's players celebrate their win at the end of the second Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on Friday. AFP

West Indies lost their captain Kraigg Brathwaite early for six being trapped lbw by Mendis and also Jermaine Blackwood on the stroke of lunch for 36 to Embuldeniya to be 65-2.

West Indies’ goal was survival and they were putting up strong resistance at 86-2 going into the afternoon session when at the end of the 42nd over the ball was changed as it had gone out of shape. 

The change of the ball had a massive effect on the course of the match as Mendis picked up three wickets in one over – Shai Hope for 16, and Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers without scoring as West Indies slid dramatically to 92-5. The wicket of Mayers gave Mendis his maiden ten-for in a Test match, and what a series it has turned out to be for him. While the wickets tumbled from one end, Nkrumah Bonner could only watch helplessly from the other.

Holder hung around for 25 minutes before Embuldeniya got one to turn and bounce and edged it to first slip where De Silva snaffled it quite easily for his third catch of the innings to follow his wonderful knock of 155*. He was later named Player of the Match.

Bonner’s 143-ball defiance ended with his score on 44 when he paid the price for chopping a ball onto his stumps too close to his body from a delivery from Embuldeniya. Whatever resistance West Indies had of saving the match ended with his dismissal at 108.

The Embuldeniya-Mendis combination simply ran through the rest of the batting, sharing all ten wickets between them as the West Indies suffered total capitulation for the second time in the match – from 65-1 to 132 all out yesterday, and from 166-2 to 253 all out in the first innings.

Mendis who took six wickets in the first innings finished with 11 in the match and 18 wickets in the series to take the Player of the Series award, Embuldeniya had seven wickets in the match that was dominated by spinners who took 36 of the 40 wickets.

With the win Sri Lanka picked up a further 12 points to consolidate their position at the top of the ICC World Test Championship table with 24 points.

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