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Nov 10, 2010

Sri Lanka Masters win CLOBI Cup

Sri Lanka Masters team led by Marvan Atapattu clinched the CLOBI Cup Masters Twenty20 Cricket Championships in front of the biggest crowd to come to Kensington Oval since the 2007 World Cup final – an estimated 10,000 – filed into ground on Tuesday night expecting the star-studded West Indies to lift the Cup and pocket prize money of US$50,000 after their impressive showing in the preliminaries.
Crowds came in their numbers in anticipation of reliving the euphoria provided by champion West Indiesteams of yesteryear, but left with the disappointment that is commonplace with West Indies teams of this era.

In the final, however, West Indies weer completely outclassed by a Sri Lanka team that included star international players of recent vintage and lost by 19 runs under the lights to bring a climax a successful tournament that featured Masters (Over-35s) from four countries – Sri Lanka, England, West Indies and India.
Sri Lanka team captained by Atapattu included Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Aravinda de Silva, Russell Arnold, Saman Jayantha, Chaminda Vaas, Chandika Haturusinghe, Hemantha Wickremaratne, Eric Upashantha and Piyal Wijetunga.
For the fourth successive match, West Indies opted to field first on winning the toss, but after Sri Lanka posted 175 for eight from their 20 overs, it was always going to be a tough ask to score at close to nine runs an over and Courtney Walsh’s men were restricted to 156 for eight.
Even before a ball was bowled, there was disappointment for hometown fans with the news that crowd favourite Carl Hooper was unable to take his place in the West Indies team because of a shoulder injury he sustained in the last preliminary match on Sunday night when West Indies lost to the same opponents by two runs.
Hooper’s absence left the batting a trifle short and Sri Lanka, backed up by one or two pieces of brilliance in the field, defended their total with intensity.
West Indies’ problems were also compounded by an injury Floyd Reifer picked up when trying to complete a tight second run early in his innings.
Reifer required the services of a runner but in spite of his limited mobility, he was able to lash a few telling blows in the topscore of 54 off 45 balls.
West Indies would have been hoping that Reifer and Sherwin Campbell could have duplicated their century partnership of the last match but it never materialised. It was worth 20 when Campbell was prised out by an outstanding one-handed return catch by Aravinda deSilva.
Reifer would  have then needed the support of Courtney Browne but he was run out by a direct throw from deep mid-on that left the hosts under pressure.
As the scoring rate increased, batsmen were forced to take more chances, but nothing worked.
When the last five overs started, 61 runs were required but many of those in the stands were still confident that they could repeat the heroics of their victory against England in the opening match when they blasted 65 from the last five overs to chase down a target of 176.
Vasbert Drakes lashed 28 from 20 balls at the end, but with 42 needed from three overs and the cream of the batting gone, the result looked obvious.
For the second successive match, Sri Lanka had to thank Russell Arnold, one of four members of their 2007 World Cup squad that lost to Australia in the final at the same venue.
At 38 for three, Sri Lanka were in need of a recovery and Arnold rescued them again by scoring 58 from 38 balls in an innings in which he exuded confidence from the beginning.
Arnold, later named Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Tournament , joined captain Marvan Atapattu, another member of the 2007 World Cup party in adding 81 for the fourth wicket in a partnership in which the visitors benefitted from a few slices of luck.
Curtly Ambrose was unable to make the impact he did in previous matches although he was the only West Indian to concede less than eight runs an over.
At the start, Sanath Jayasuriya, a known power hitter and another 2007 World Cup returnee, was threatening to make light work of West Indies’ attack by rushing to 28 off 17 balls and it would have been a relief to West Indians when he hoisted a catch to deep mid-off from left-arm spinner Neil McGarrell’s first ball.
West Indies also brought off one or two fine pieces of fielding – none better than when Courtney Walsh ran out Aravinda deSilva with a throw from square-leg to the bowler’s end – but in the end, they could not deny Sri Lanka on the night.

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