Riding on the back of an emphatic win over England in the opening game, a spirited West Indies continued their winning run by inflicting a seven-wicket loss on Sri Lanka in their Super 10 clash of the ICC World T20 at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru on 20 March.
The Windies were clear favourites in today's crucial Group 1 encounter, especially after Chris Gayle's 47-ball hundred in their opening game. The Darren Sammy brigade did emerge victorious, but, against the popular perception and to the absolute misery of the crowd, Gayle had nothing to do with it.
Andre Fletcher (84*) and Samuel Badree (3/12) hogged the limelight as West Indies stormed to the top spot in their group with two consecutive wins in the tournament. Andre Russell (20*) also played a cameo of 8-ball 20 including three fours and a six.
For those who missed the match and are probably wondering why the swashbuckling Gayle didn't face a single delivery, the answer is slightly frustrating. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) opener and local favourite pulled up his hamstring while fielding.
Gayle's absence allowed Fletcher to open the innings alongside Jonathan Charles (10) for the Windies. The right-hander, who was included in the West Indies squad as an extra batsman, justified his selection and made full use of the opportunity to showcase his skills in the shortest version of the game.
Fletcher smashed six fours and five sixes while scoring at a strike-rate of 131.25 in his 64-ball innings. He added 39 runs alongside Charles for the first wicket and anchored the run-chase for his side amid some scare.
Jeffrey Vandersay, who arrived in the country only on the eve of the match, bowled a fine spell to finish with 1-11 off his four overs. For a 26-year old, he coped under the glare of the World T20 excellently and for a young wrist-spinner, his control was excellent.
Milinda Siriwardana, too, bowled with precision and got the better of Marlon Samuels (3) and Denesh Ramdin (5). But, the fielding fumbles and ordinary seam bowling failed to challenge the West Indies batsmen.
Earlier, the Calypso kings, after deciding to bowl, got a lucky breakthrough in the fourth over when Tillakaratne Dilshan (12) was ruled out LBW by the umpire while the replays suggested that the ball was missing the leg stump by some distance.
Dinesh Chandimal (16) soon joined his opening partner back in the pavilion after Charles found him short at the crease in the fifth over. The Lankans, who scored 41 runs at the expense of two wickets in the Powerplay, were looking to accelerate when Badree's magic spell spoiled their chances.
Badree sprung into action in the seventh over when Lahiru Thirimanne (5) sliced the ball straight to point. The leg-spinner was once again at his prolific best in the ninth over where he dismissed Chamara Kapugedera (6) and Milinda Siriwardana (0) in a space of two deliveries.
Reeling at 47/5, the Lankans desperately needed a partnership to steady their innings. The onus was once again on Mathews who added 44 runs alongside Thisara Perera for the sixth wicket. But, the Lankan skipper couldn't stay on for long as Dwayne Bravo got him caught behind for 20 runs.
With wickets tumbling at the other end, Perera began playing his shots in search for a final flourish in the death overs. But, the left-hander couldn't help his side go beyond 122/9 in their 20 overs.
Following their loss, Sri Lanka find themselves at the third spot with just two points in Group 1. South Africa, who defeated Afghanistan by 37 runs earlier today, are placed second ahead of the Lankans due to a superior Net Run-Rate (NRR) in the group.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews (c), Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Jeffrey Vandersay, Dushmantha Chameera, Rangana Herath.
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Andre Fletcher, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Sammy (c), Carlos Brathwaite, Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn.