West Indies 127 for 3 (Fletcher 84*) beat Sri Lanka 122 for 9 (Thisara 40, Badree 3 for 12) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Samuel Badree towered over Sri Lanka in the early going © AFP
Samuel Badree sticks out in this West Indies team. He has a neat little side parting. He does not have rippling muscles. He celebrates a wicket almost out of courtesy. And all of his wickets tonight in Bangalore came as a result of his inviting the batsmen to make a mistake. Sri Lanka rsvp-ed like crazy. His 3 for 12 laid the foundation to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over the defending champions.
Much of Badree’s success comes from his accuracy. So it was almost surprising to see him bowl one wide at the new batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, until he sliced it straight to point. Chamara Kapugedera raced down the pitch too early and Badree had him stumped. Three balls later, Milinda Siriwardana nicked a googly to slip. Those were the wickets to his name. In the fifth over, Badree strung three dot balls on the trot to lead Dinesh Chandimal into running himself out.
Badree finished his spell in the 10th over and Sri Lanka were 49 for 5 with very little hope of recovery. The only barely avoided getting bowled out, and their 122 for 9 was expertly run down by a man playing his first T20I in three months – Andre Fletcher. He stepped in for an injured Chris Gayle to open the innings, struck an unbeaten 84 off 64 balls and was out in the middle when the winning run was scored.
West Indies may be tussling with their board, their Test team’s reputation may be in the doldrums but the shortest format always brings the best out of them. Fletcher, for example, had a T20I average of 19 before today. But he had improved his reputation via the Caribbean Premier League. He was the second-highest run-scorer in the 2015 edition, behind only his mentor Gayle.
“Confidence on the field looks high,” tweeted former West Indian captain Brian Lara as the current captain Darren Sammy broke into jigs while his men celebrated each wicket with gusto. The high-fives could have poked someone’s eye out.
But Angelo Mathews’ inexperienced team were at the opposite end of the spectrum. They were worried about far too many things, the reputation of a big-hitting West Indian line-up, for example.
Chandimal hit straight to cover and ran because he was off put by the 11 dots he consumed. Thirimanne was facing his first ball of spin and he committed to a loft without realising Badree had tossed it too far wide to be timed properly. Kapugedera was promoted to pinch hit and came back with 6 off 10 balls.
All that chaos was exploited by Badree, who read a set of nervous batsmen perfectly. Siriwardana was another Sri Lanka batsman itching to hit the ball, but the No. 1-ranked bowler in the world kept feeding him wrong ‘uns that kept turning past the bat and after two hard-handed pokes that missed the ball, the third fell into the lap of the Gayle at first slip.
Thisara Perera would have hoped his 40 off 29 balls rescues Sri Lanka, but his fluency only went on to demonstrate how the rest of the line-up simply didn’t stand up when they needed to.
Full report to follow
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo