Sri Lanka cruise to nine-wicket win

A collective bowling performance from Sri Lanka and half-centuries by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene made short work of West Indies on the first day of warm-up matches for the World Twenty20. Nuwan Kulasekara struck the early blows and West Indies could manage only 132, a target Sri Lanka achieved with 4.2 overs to spare.

The West Indies batsmen attacked in spurts, but could not maintain their assaults as Sri Lanka prised regular wickets through disciplined bowling. The low NCC wicket did not help timing, nor did it allow the West Indies’ hitters to achieve the elevation they might have preferred. With Chris Gayle being rested, no sixes were hit during their innings. Even Kieron Pollard, who was at the crease for almost ten overs, could only manage two boundaries, digging out yorkers and patting away the spinners into the outfield.

Johnson Charles’ 30 from 26 stabilised West Indies after Kulasekara had removed both openers. Charles scored most of his runs square of the wicket, rising tall on the back foot to punch crisply through the offside for two of his three boundaries, before Sri Lanka placed a sweeper for the shot and adjusted their lengths. Darren Bravo barely played a fluent stroke throughout his stay, his 29 – the second highest score for the West Indies – came off 31 balls.

Akila Dananjaya could not take a wicket from three overs on a pitch that appeared to have little in it for spinners, but both he and the Sri Lanka management will find an economy rate of less than six heartening. Lasith Malinga’s yorkers were humming nicely toward the end of the innings, and the lack of bounce meant that he was difficult to punish even if the ball pitched slightly short. Kulasekara and Thisara Perera, who are both returning from injury, were the most expensive bowlers for Sri Lanka.

Dilshan Munaweera’s baptism against top level opposition threatened to be a swift one when Fidel Edwards rapped him on the shoe first ball, but having survived the raucous appeal and despite initially struggling to handle Edwards’ pace, Munaweera quickly began to find the square boundary off the other bowlers. He was dismissed attempting to pull Ravi Rampaul from outside off, when perhaps a cut or a dab to third man would have been more appropriate.

Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan progressed smoothly thereafter, punishing only the poor deliveries to begin with, before introducing scoops, reverse sweeps, and in Jayawardene’s case, a reverse pull, into their innings. Sunil Narine was dealt with with fuss, while Edwards also lost his sting as the ball grew softer. The West Indies fast men showed hints of rust, with too many deliveries being picked off the pads, and several more being pitched short and wide.

Dilshan and Jayawardene both accelerated to their half-centuries and completed the chase in the 16th over. (Cricinfo)