Batting with an eye firmly on the net run rate, Sri Lanka — led from the front by its captain Mahela Jayawardene — cantered home to a nine-wicket win against the West Indies in its second Super Eights game of the ICC World T20 tournament here. This is Sri Lanka’s biggest win in a T20 game.
Spot-on bowling, led by Ajantha Mendis, and some brilliant batting, including a 108-run partnership between Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, saw Sri Lanka accomplish the twin tasks of winning and maintaining a healthy NRR.
In fact, it appeared there were two pitches in the middle — one that West Indies batted on, and another that Sri Lanka batted on. The West Indian batting looked laboured, while the Sri Lankan top order stroked freely.
Both Sri Lanka and West Indies have won their opening games, and have one game each left. The possibility of three teams in this group ending up with equal points has brightened.
“We will be cheering for Sri Lanka,” said New Zealand captain Ross Taylor. If Sri Lanka beat England in the next game, New Zealand can still go through, if it beats West Indies.
West Indies now has to beat New Zealand and wait for the outcome of the last match in Pallekele — between Sri Lanka and England — to find out if it has made the cut for the last four.
Since Sri Lanka tied its first game against New Zealand and later won on the basis of a Super Over, it was important for it to force the pace of scoring. Mahela and Dilshan did just that.
Earlier, after electing to bat the West Indies batting lost the plot after Chris Gayle and the in-form Johnson Charles fell early, and set a target of 130 for Sri Lanka to chase.
West Indies got off to the slowest start in the tournament. For some strange reason Johnson Charles hogged most of the strike. Till he got out in the fifth over, Charles had taken 21 balls of the strike to Gayle’s 8.
Charles finally lost patience and charged down to Ajantha Mendis. The only problem: his heave and the ball were in two different trajectories. Sangakkara completed the stumping.
In the very next over, Gayle chased a slow leg-cutter from Kulasekara into the hands of Sangakkara. When Power Play was completed, West Indies had put up 20 for the loss of two wickets — the lowest for this edition of the tournament.
Dawyne Bravo and Marlon Samuels went about the job of rebuilding in a sensible manner; running the twos, blocking the good balls and hitting the bad ones into the stands.
At the end of 10 overs, West Indies had crawled to 53 for 2. The pair put on the highest partnership for the third wicket in a world T20 game for the West Indies — 65 — and looked set for more. Bravo finally got out in the 15th over, holing out to long-on off Jeevan Mendis.
Ajantha took two wickets to become the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with a tally of 9. When he bowled the struggling Kieron Pollard, he also bagged his 100 T20 wicket.
West Indies made one change to its playing 11 from the last match: Badree made way for Fidel Edwards. Sri Lanka rested Akila Dananjaya and brought in Rangana Herath.
West Indies: J. Charles st. Sangakkara b Mendis 12 (21b, 2x4), C. Gayle c Sangakkara b Kulasekara 2 (9b), M. Samuels c Dilshan b Mathews 50 (35b, 4x4, 2x6), D. Bravo c Dilshan b J. Mendis 40 (34b, 4x4, 2x6), K. Pollard b A. Mendis 1(6b), A. Russell (not out) 19 (14b, 1x6), D. Sammy (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-1, lb-3): 4; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 129.
Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Charles), 2-16 (Gayle), 3-81 (Bravo), 4-90 (Pollard), 5-123 (Samuels).
Sri Lanka bowling: A. Mathews 4-0-31-1, Kulasekara 4-0-28-1, Malinga 4-0-26-0, A. Mendis 4-1-12-2, Herath 2-0-16-0, J. Mendis 2-0-12-1.
Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene (not out) 65 (49b, 10x4, 1x6), T. Dilshan c Ramdin b Rampaul 13 (9b, 3x4), K. Sangakkara (not out) 39 (34b, 5x4); Extras (b-2, lb-1,w-10) 13; Total (for one wicket in 15.2 overs): 130.
Fall of wicket: 1-22 (Dilshan).
West Indies bowling: Rampaul 4-0-39-1, Edwards 2-0-24-0, Narine 4-0-23-0, Sammy 4-0-28-0, Russel 1-0-11-0, Gayle 0.2-0-2-0.
Man-of-the-match: Mahela Jayawardene.
Keywords: ICC World Twenty20