An injury to big-hitting opening batsman Chris Gayle failed to hamper West Indies against ICC World Twenty20 holders Sri Lanka as Andre Fletcher blasted them to a second victory in as many Group 1 matches.
Gayle, having smashed a 47-ball century against England earlier this week, was only available to bat if required due to a hamstring problem sustained in the field, leaving the vocal Bangalore crowd disappointed.
But Fletcher ensured Gayle’s absence did not pose a problem to the Windies with an unbeaten 84 from 64 deliveries, helping his side overhaul Sri Lanka’s below-par 122 for nine with seven wickets and 10 balls to spare.
Fletcher, promoted to open the innings, smashed six fours and five maximums in a brilliant knock after replacing seamer Jerome Taylor in the XI as the Windies plumped for an extra batsman.
Fletcher lost the company of Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin to spin with only 72 on the board, the latter prompting Gayle to attempt to walk to the crease 12 minutes earlier than he was allowed.
The 36-year-old was sent back to the dressing room by reserve umpire Ian Gould, much to the annoyance of the local fans, who thought they would finally get to see him in action when Fletcher was given out caught behind on 71.
However, the decision went upstairs and Fletcher remained at the crease after replays showed the ball bounced before entering wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal’s gloves.
Fletcher and Andre Russell then steered the Windies home with a 53-run stand in just 33 deliveries, the latter finishing the match with a six to move to 20 from eight balls.
Sri Lanka had earlier struggled against the leg-spin of Samuel Badree, who returned impressive figures of 3-12, and the variations of Dwayne Bravo, with 2-20, after they were asked to make first use by Darren Sammy.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was unfortunate to be given out lbw to Carlos Brathwaite’s first delivery, with replays showing the ball was heading down the leg side, while Chandimal was run out.
Badree then struck to leave Sri Lanka reeling on 47 for five, but Thisara Perera provided some impetus with a 29-ball 40 which included five fours and a six.
Bravo had Perera caught at long-on in the final over after also running out Rangana Herath and outfoxing Angelo Mathews with a loopy full-toss slower ball that he edged behind.
— Chris Gayle (@henrygayle) March 20, 2016