A rollicking 91-run opening partnership, brisk stands through the middle, and a violent Angelo Mathews finish sent Sri Lanka hurtling to 215 for 3 – the highest ever T20 international total on the island – and set the scene for a 30-run victory. Tillakaratne Dilshan top-scored with 56 off 37 balls, but it was Mathews’ 13-ball 37 that grew Sri Lanka’s total from imposing to enormous.
Andre Fletcher cracked 57 off 25 balls in response, but his teammates could not prosper long against Sri Lanka’s spin. Sachithra Senanayake claimed four wickets, Milinda Siriwardana two, and Shehan Jayasuriya picked up the last scalp, to wipe out the visitors for 185 in the penultimate over. The start of the match had been delayed by over an hour due to rain, but it commenced at 8:10pm with no overs lost.
Mathews arrived at 155 for 3 in the 17th over, and began his innings ominously, launching his first ball high over cow corner, before whipping his wrists to send Dwayne Bravo’s full toss over deep square leg, next ball. He smote a third leg-side six off Jerome Taylor next over, before Bravo came back for more punishment. Another Mathews six and two fours off the final over completed a six-over sequence that cost West Indies 78 runs. Mathews hit four sixes and two fours in his cameo.
Earlier, Kusal Perera ignited the innings with a four over mid off, before Dilshan began just as belligerently at the other end, crashing his first two balls to the boundary. They preyed on length balls to start with, but soon began flitting around on the crease to turn decent balls into boundary options. Kusal began to sweep and Dilshan soon unfurled his over-the-shoulder scoop. By the end of the fourth over, both batsmen had five fours to their name, and the score had hurtled to 46. When Holder’s sixth over was tonked for 17 – mostly by Dilshan – Sri Lanka moved to 65.
Sunil Narine forced a brief decline in the scoring rate with a seventh over that conceded only three runs, but the openers continued to hit boundaries off the other bowlers. Dilshan, who had earlier become the first Sri Lanka batsman to 1500 T20 international runs, completed a 28-ball half-century in the tenth over.
Kieron Pollard dismissed the openers in quick succession, getting Kusal to bunt a slower ball to cover and bowling Dilshan with a slower delivery, but incoming Jayasuriya and Dinesh Chandimal began to quickly create their own momentum. Chandimal crashed three early boundaries through the covers, while Jayasuriya took a particular liking to Pollard. He scooped Pollard for four at the start of the 16th over, slog-swept the fourth ball over cow corner, then collected a top-edged six to seal a 23-run over.
He was out to Narine soon after, but Chandimal continued to gallop, cracking a reverse-sweep for four, then a slog sweep for six off Narine, before Mathews took over at the finish. Each of the five Sri Lanka batsmen to come to the crease hit at least 35 runs. The strike rates – all of which were higher than 130 – increased for each new batsman.
Johnson Charles was cleaned up by a Lasith Malinga yorker second ball, but West Indies regrouped through Fletcher, who began to bludgeon indiscriminately through the leg-side. The sixth over, delivered by debutant Dushmantha Chameera, disappeared for 19, then Senanayake was tonked for 16, but wickets soon began to stem the flow of runs.
Siriwardana dismissed Andre Russell with a round-arm yorker, then Chameera returned to the bowling crease to get rid of Fletcher with a slower ball. Bravo and Pollard raised West Indies’ hopes with a 51-run fifth-wicket stand, which contained four fours and four sixes, but the middle order fell in a heap to spin. Bravo was caught behind, while Pollard, Darren Sammy and Jason Holder all holed out attempting sixes.
The tail arrived to hit a few boundaries for themselves, but didn’t ever look like threatening Sri Lanka’s target.
West Indies go 0-1 down in the two-match series, and are still awaiting their first win on tour. (Courtesy Cricinfo)