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Cricket news - Middle-order experience pays off for Hasaranga

Hasaranga scored an unbeaten 42 to see his team home by one wicket in the last over

Hasaranga scored an unbeaten 42 to see his team home by one wicket in the last over

Wanindu Hasaranga isn't a stranger to close finishes and being the one to lead his side past the finish line. Saturday's (February 22) thrilling win for Sri Lanka against West Indies, a one-wicket victory that helped them take a lead in the three-match ODI series, was possible due to Hasaranga's calmness in a pressure situation - something which the all-rounder has been familiar with thanks to his lower-order stints with his club.

"I was able to finish a match like this today because the T20 club final innings that I had played," Hasaranga said after Sri Lanka chased down a 290-run target in the final over. "Also in the practice matches I'd played well from lower in the order. That's where I will bat in the national team, so even in the club matches I made sure to bat Nos. 6, 7 and 8."

Stressing on the importance of finishers in limited-overs cricket, Hasaranga said: "Yes, they were club matches, but it did have an effect on my mind. I had the confidence that I can play these kinds of innings. As far as I know, someone who can finish matches is the kind of player who can have a long career. I wanted to be someone who could do that for the team."

Coach Mickey Arthur has had a good word or two to say about Hasaranga's all-round skills and his performance in the first ODI. And an unbeaten 42 following an economic spell is how Hasaranga justified his coach's faith in him.

"The coach is constantly talking to me about things that are expected of me and what I can do for the team - bowl dots in the middle overs and get wickets, do well in the field, and finish a match when we get to situations like this. What he's told me is that I'm a player who can do all of that," Hasaranga said.

Before taking the matter into his own hands, Hasaranga had also played a supporting role earlier in a 38-run stand with Thisara Perera that kept Sri Lanka on track in the chase. Speaking about the partnership, Hasaranga said: "When I went to bat we still had 75 to get. Thisara aiya was batting at the time - he had 10 or 15 at the time. He can play the big shots at any time. I managed to get a four and a six early on, without too much effort. So I tried to support Thisara when he was batting. I tried to stay in the wicket until it was necessary for me to take a risk.

"When Thisara and I were batting, it also looked like there was a bit of rain in the air. We wondered if the match would stop for bad light or whatever. It was almost 5.30 at the time. But we wanted to be 10 runs in front of the Duckworth-Lewis par score. We didn't want to throw wickets away. It was because we had tried to get ahead of the rate at that time that I was able to take my time and finish like I did," he said.

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