THERE have been some unexpected sights during this Cricket World Cup, but whatever happens in the next two weeks, the tournament will have to go some to top the surprise of seeing Rihanna wandering through the hospitality areas at Chester-le-Street. Maybe she needed some inspiration for a reworking of one of her hit singles. Shut Up and Cover Drive.

The Barbadian pop star went to school with West Indian all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, and popped in to Emirates Riverside to offer some support to her childhood friend. She left having witnessed one of the games of the tournament. What started as a dead rubber ended with the Windies narrowly failing to pull off what would have been the highest run chase in World Cup history.

Unlike tomorrow, when England take on New Zealand in a live-or-die contest that is likely to determine which team makes it to the semi-finals, this was a game featuring two sides who have no chance of making the last four. Not, however, that you would have known that from the excitement that was generated.

Needing to chase down a target of 339, Rihanna was jigging away on the balcony next to the West Indian dressing room as her compatriots came within 24 runs of pulling off what would have been a remarkable triumph.

In the end, they paid the price for a shoddy display in the field that left them with just too much to do, but for a while, as 23-year-old Nicholas Pooran produced a remarkable array of attacking shots to claim a maiden international century, the seemingly-impossible looked on.

The early departure of the mercurial Chris Gayle looked to have stopped the West Indies in their tracks, with the opener following a couple of characteristically flamboyant sixes with a top-edge that flew to Jeffrey Vandersay at third man.

Gayle’s dismissal left his side toiling at 71-3, and wickets continued to fall at regular intervals as the pressure of trying to keep up with a required run rate of more than six-an-over told.

Pooran was successfully settling into a rhythm, though, and when he combined with Fabian Allen to put on a quickfire 83 for the seventh wicket, the West Indies looked capable of pulling off an upset.

They might have triumphed had they kept their heads, but Allen was run out as he hesitated to run what should have been a routine single, and the game was up when Pooran chased a wide one from Angelo Mathews and perished on 118.

He could not have batted any better, but in the end, he was overshadowed by another youngster celebrating a maiden international hundred.

Sri Lanka’s 21-year-old batsman Avishka Fernando provided the bedrock of his side’s innings, with his 104 proving the highlight of a total of 338-6.

Fernando scored his hundred off exactly 100 balls, accelerating at just the right moment after a watchful start to ensure the platform provided by a 93-run opening stand between Dimuth Karunarathne and Kusal Perera was not wasted.

This has been a transitional tournament for Sri Lanka, now long shorn of old-stagers such as Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara, but not quite blessed with a new generation capable of living up to the World Cup-winning exploits of their predecessors.

Fernando looks a genuine star in the making though, still in the infancy of his international career after progressing from Sri Lanka’s Under-19s, but boasting a temperament and ability to latch on to anything wayward that belies his inexperience.

He was helped yesterday by a wretched West Indian effort in the field, with catches going down, balls repeatedly banged in far too short and the sight of slumped shoulders suggesting that morale, at the end of a long tournament, is not quite where it should be.

The one bright spot from a West Indian fielding perspective was the wonderful diving caught-and-bowled from Fabian Allen that accounted for Kusal Mendis, but it always felt as though Sri Lanka’s total would be more than sufficient.

So it proved, much to Rihanna’s disappointment. As the West Indies’ unbeaten final pairing of Sheldon Cottrell and Shannon Gabriel trudged from their field, so their most famous fan was being whisked away. Perhaps the bright lights of Washington proved too much of an allure.