Spinners rule yet again as West Indies seamers struggled to stem the flow of runs
Chris Gayle managed just three runs in 13 balls before dragging one on from Lasith Malinga , Dwayne Smith – after clouting ten runs off the first two balls of the innings remained marooned – and the dangerous Marlon Samuels managed to strike only one boundary in his 28-ball innings. West Indies played 38 dot balls in the 89 deliveries it faced. That, as much as clever Sri Lanka bowling and dynamic fielding, cost it most.
Sri Lanka’s innings of 160 was about par for a decent pitch without the turn of some Dhaka surfaces. The innings began brightly with some clean striking from the impressive Kusal Perera, particularly against Krishmar Santokie. Tilikeratne Dilshan also found his touch early on against the number-one ranked T20I bowler Samuel Badree. The score was 41 after four overs.
The innings went rapidly into decline when Perera was bowled off the inside edge and Dilshan called Mahela Jayawardena for a risky single and ran him out without facing. When Kumar Sangakkara chipped a return catch, two men with a total of 103 international hundreds had made just one run between them. It was 50-3. All the West Indies spinners had bowled tightly.
The first ball of the innings over 80mph – bowled by Andre Russell in the ninth over, conceded the first boundary in six overs and at halfway the score was 65-3.
Dilshan increased the tempo with Thirimanne but ran himself out in the 14th at which point Sri Lanka was only 93-4, and Sunil Narine, who had never conceded more than 20 in the tournament was bowling an impeccable length. It was 128 after 18 overs, but Angelo Mathews unleashed some ruthless blows off the medium-pacers, taking 32 off the last overs from Santokie and Russell. Just 75 runs had come off 13 overs of spin, whereas 83 runs were garnered off seven overs of seam.
The target of 161 was reduced by 10 by Smith off the first two balls of the innings from Nuwan Kulasekera but once he had lost the strike to a becalmed Chris Gayle he had trouble getting it back. Then in Malinga’s second over he lured Gayle into a limp play-on and bowled Smith through the gate with a superb off-cutter. When Lendl Simmons was lbw to Seekkuge Prasanna first ball in T20Is, it was 34-3.
The Sri Lanka spinners were just as hard to dominate as the West Indies ones, especially Sachithra Senanyake (two overs for 6) and by the end of the 11th over (61-3) there had been just four fours and one six in the innings. That was partly down to some brilliant and committed diving stops on the boundary from Dilshan and Kulasekera.
Dwayne Bravo tried to seize the initiative with some daring shots, but Samuels was unable to match him and, under mounting pressure, Bravo perished trying to loft another one over the leg-side. A bemused West Indies captain Darren Sammy arrived at the wicket with 81 required from just six overs. As he and Bravo had managed this many in just five overs against Pakistan, there were many who wondered if lightening could strike twice. It did – from the sky above sending all the players headlong from the field. Before this match Sri Lanka had won 88% of its T20s defending a score of 160 plus.
Now, after Messrs Duckworth and Lewis awarded it victory by 27 runs, make that 90%.