West Indies reaffirmed their status as a dangerous T20 side with a smashing win over Sri Lanka, and that too minus any contribution from their star player Chris Gayle, who could not bat due to injury. Leg spinner Samuel Badree ran through the struggling Lankan middle over with excellent figures of 3 for 12, as they were restricted to a disappointing 122 for 8 batting first. They wouldn’t even have gotten there had it not been for Thisara Perera’s late blast. Then, Andre Fletcher enthralled the Bangalore crowd with an unbeaten 84 from 64, making up for Gayle’s absence at the top, as Windies got home by seven wickets.
Badree was all over the Lankan batting, raising questions about the latter’s ability against spin. Lahiru Thirimanne’s poor run continued as the batsman sliced one straight to point. Chamara Kapugedera, another experienced player who has failed to prove his worth, was promoted to number four. He managed only 6 from 9 before running down the pitch to the leggie, and getting himself stumped. Badree had his third success in the same over when Milinda Siriwardana edged one to slip. His contribution did not end there though. The dot balls he delivered to Dinesh Chandimal led to the batsman to getting himself run-out.
Once Badree was done, West Indies expertly restricted Sri Lanka, and Fletcher then grabbed his opportunity with both hands. He ensured West Indies were never under any kind of pressure, getting boundaries frequently. The first ball of chase from Angelo Mathews showed Fletcher’s intent as he slammed a boundary through midwicket. He then swung a full delivery straight down the ground for a six. Rangana Herath was treated similarly as he bowled the next over – another six down the ground was followed by a slog sweep to deep midwicket. Johnson Charles was the silent partner in the opening stand, and he dragged on Jeffrey Vandersay on 10.
Fletcher continued his assault event as Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin came and went. The 15th over bowled by Siriwardana saw him launching the first two balls over the ropes – the first cleared long on, and the second was blasted straight down the ground. Andre Russell then hammered one through midwicket as West Indies took 19 of the over and brought the equation down to 29 from the last five overs. Russell finished off the match in MS Dhoni style, launching Perera over the cover boundary for a six. Gayle, who had injured his hamstring, was happy watching from the sidelines.
It was Sri Lanka’s poor effort with the bat that let them down. Tillakaratne Dilshan got a shocker as he was given lbw to Carlon Brathwaite even as the ball was heading well down the leg side. Badree then took out the three out of form batsmen in quick succession before Chandimal ran himself out. Perera was the one who gave Lanka something to bowl at. In the 18th over, he took on Brathwaite, and a rewarded a boundary through backward point and a six over deep square leg. Perera’s 40 from 29 was not enough to prevent Windies’ second win in as many games.
--By A Cricket Correspondent