By:  Adarsh Shah Twitter: @shah_adarsh 

Many people have pointed out to me that there is no such thing as being a neutral in sport. I disagree, I have seen some amazing games when I don’t have anything riding on it, being  less stressed and  truly appreciate the game for what it really is without any bias creeping in.

So carrying on our tour of the North of the country we had painted Manchester and Newcastle red, watched England V India in a pub and arrived in the beautiful, historic charming Town of Durham. 

My first ever visit to the most northern international cricket venue in England – Chester-Le-Street. It’s a lovely, unique and greatly picturesque ground charmingly set right below the castle.  I have to say it became one of my top 3 grounds that I have visited.

The sun was beaming down relentlessly all day and we had to make sure that we were always hydrated. A little criticism of the ground is that unlike most other grounds there were no water refill stations.

West Indies won the toss and elected to bowl

  • The two openers had a solid start. Laid a bit of a foundation with 93 runs.
    Perera looked stylish with very good stroke play with 8 fours for his 64 before getting run-out, trying for 2 runs where there was barely 1 on offer.
  • I have to say for most of the part, West Indies didn’t really look up for this game. It showed in their well below par bowling and almost lazy fielding. 
  • Avishka Fernando was a joy to watch with his maiden century. He scored a massive 6 over the biggest boundary of the ground of the bowling of Cottrell. A super shot as It wasn’t even a short ball.
    He did remind me a lot of Mahela Jayawardene in looks, style and patience. Obviously not in stature yet but the young man could fill that void left by the legend in the coming years. 
  • Thirimanne and Mathews gave it a good go as supporting acts. As Sri Lanka really gave it a good go considering their previous high score in the tournament was 247. 338-6 in the end was a mammoth total.

We had the West Indies chase..

  • For me the Universe Boss (Gayle) was again disappointing.  Turning down singles, not having much foot movement and out to a poor execution of a top edged shot. However he was given a lease of life when dropped on 10. He had flicked Malinga into the leg side; Thirimanne had dived to his right and got one hand to it but didn’t hang on.  Would have been a spectacular catch!
  • West Indies once again just looks to be loving the un-smart way of cricket. Loose shots, run outs etc. So frustrating to watch.  At 84-4 it looked like we would be having a nice early dinner by the riverside in Durham.
  • A lot of attention went to Barbadian international popstar Rihanna as she was having a day at the cricket from the hospitality boxes.  It was fun too, with the DJ catching on and playing many of her tracks for entertainment. She apparently went to school with Carlos Brathwaite. He was unlucky with his run out as he wasn’t looking at what his partner was doing and just went off for a single. At that point it was still looking good for some sort of recovery with WI needing 150 odd from 15 overs.
  • Allen played a truly amazing innings. 51 off 32 balls with 7 fours and a mighty six. Comedy of errors once again for the West Indies as he refused Pooran’s call for an easy single, sees Poooran is at his end, starts to jog but the bails were off by then. 
  • It was still doable with Pooran in the form of his life at this point 57 needed off 35 balls. Pororan played some amazing shots with 11 fours and 4 mighty sixes. He made 118, another maiden century in this match. But got out to Angelo Mathews’s wide delivery going for an edge to the keeper.
  • It was pretty much all over by then! The tail enders hung on until the final ball but came up short by 23 runs. 

Sri-lanka would have wished they played like this throughout the tournament and might have had a shot to reach the Semis. On the other hand, I can’t believe this was the same West Indies side that a few months ago drew 2-2 with England.  Too many egos in the dressing room harming their team, in my opinion. As 2011 World cup winner Gautham Gambhir once said, “Cricket is a team game. If you want fame for yourself, go play an individual game. “

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