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 81-5, 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.
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 West Indies.
“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.”
Charged with the responsibility of leadership for the first time at senior international level, Lakmal could not disguise the delight at his team’s achievement. “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.”