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Sri Lanka won the toss and racked up a huge score - 195/3 in their allotted 20 overs. Mahela Jayawardene continued with his purple patch and stroked his way to an unbeaten 98 from a mere 56 balls. He got ample support from his captain Kumar Sangakkara who also batted his way into form with an innings of 68 from 49 balls. The Lankans were helped a great deal by a lacklustre performance on the bowling and fielding front from Chris Gayle's men. Dropped catches and wayward deliveries were the order of the day for the hosts as they struggled to make a mark in the game.
In reply, the West Indians were off to a terrible start with the destructive Chris Gayle (5) departing early. A period of consolidation from Dwayne Bravo (23) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (28) was of little consolation as the rest of the batsmen failed to rise to the occasion and get some quick runs at the end. The Lankan bowling was at its best with Mendis and Malinga being the chief wreckers and ending up with 3 wickets each.
The business end of the ICC T20 World Cup 2010 has finally arrived with the heavyweights left to slug it out for a place in the last four. The format of the game has ensured that there are no clear favourites. However, conditions have proved to have a major say. While India may have been â€˜paced' out by the Aussie speedsters in the first match of the day, rain at its untimely best has played a major role too in the tournament so far.
Hosts West Indies entertained a â€˜struggling' Lankan side at the Kensington Oval knowing all too well about the â€˜pace friendly' nature of the wicket. Against a Lankan batting line up that has only Mahela Jayawardene holding his head high, Chris Gayle and his men were expected to prevail with the aid of the partisan and raucous home support. The big news on the team selection front was the return of spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan after initial fears of him missing the World Cup owing to a groin injury early into the tournament. West Indies on the other hand welcomed back speed merchants Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach with the aim of harrying the Lankan batsmen, brought up on the sluggish sub continental wickets.
Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and decided to take first strike. It made sense from the Lankan captain as chasing any reasonable total would have put his struggling batting stars (including =himself) under immense pressure. Sanath Jayasuriya replaced the out-of-form Tillakratne Dilshan at the top of the order. Last year's player of the tournament failing to find form thus far this season.
Jayasuriya (6) was off to a torrid start with Jerome Taylor unsettling him no end in the 2nd over - Kieron Pollard even dropping his Mumbai Indians teammate at backward point. The 40-year old Matara Parliamentarian was bailed out of his misery in the very next over by the impressive Kemar Roach. A well directed short delivery from Roach could only be directed by Jayasuriya to Jerome Taylor at short fine leg.
Sangakkara walked in next and was immediately gifted a reprieve by Chris Gayle. The West Indian captain dropped his counterpart at first slip with Jerome Taylor again being the unlucky bowler. Mahela Jayawardene though seemed to be continuing on his impressive run in the tournament as he helped himself to some well timed and well placed boundaries to take Sri Lanka to 38/1 in 5 overs.
The experienced duo took the Lankans to a position of strength - 64/1 after 8 overs. Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene were at their vintage best - aided by some pretty loose bowling from Chris Gayle's men. Sri Lanka reached 95/1 in 11 overs and Jayawardene completed his 50 from a mere 29 balls. A total of 200 didn't look too distant with wickets in hand as the West Indians stared at a huge chase in the offing.
There was a definite lack of intensity from the hosts and wicket keeper Andre Fletcher provided credence to this belief with his missed stumping of Jayawardene in the 15th over. He then followed up with a terrible piece of misjudgement in the same over when he didn't go for an easy skier and his initial movement put off Wavell Hinds as well; Jayawardene being the benefactor again.
With 4 overs to go, Sri Lanka had motored to 142/1 and looked set to bat the West Indians out of the match. Sangakkara (68) departed in the 19th over in his attempt to swing at everything, but the damage had long been done. His 166-run partnership with Jayawardene had clearly turned the match on its head after a difficult start for the Lankans. Jayawardene on his part was left stranded at 98 from a mere 56 balls as Sri Lanka finished at a seemingly improbable 195/3 (the highest score in the tournament so far) in their allotted 20 overs. Interestingly, Jayawardene faced only 12 dot balls in his entire innings!
In reply, th West Indies were off to the worst possible start with openers Shivnarine Chanderpaul (11) andÂ Chris Gayle (5) departing in quick succession to leave the Caribbean side tottering at 23/2 in the 3rd over. It was a hammer blow to the hosts' chances as only Gayle had the shots and the experience to take the West Indies anywhere close to the Lankan target.
The Sri Lankan bowlers to their credit, stuck to their discipline and didn't get carried away by the pace and bounce on the wicket. The score at the end of the power play overs read 41/2 and with the required run rate being over 10 runs per over, Sarwan and Bravo needed to get a move on and do so urgently.Â The duo tried to copy the Jayawardene - Sangakkara manual of building an innings and took the West Indians to a position of relative stability - 72/2 in 10 overs. The final stretch of the innings promised to be an interesting one as there was still the big hitting sensation Kieron Pollard waiting in the wings.
Bravo and Sarwan - the two set batsman - departed in quick succession to leave the West Indies in a spot of bother at 82/4 in the 13th over. However, Sarwan's wicket was followed by arguably the loudest cheer of the West Indian innings as Kieron Pollard stepped in with his team all but out of the contest.
With 6 overs to go, the West Indians needed an improbable 107 runs and barring a Kieron Pollard inspired miracle, the match was over as a contest. At the same time, the batting side was trying to get as many runs as possible to make sure their net run rate didn't plummet to abysmally low levels and haunt them later in the tournament.
Pollard (9) failed to bring any respite for the suffering partisan crowd and holed out in the deep to leave his side at 99/5 in the 16th over. It was the final nail in the West Indies' coffin as the match trudged along to its inevitable conclusion. They finally limped to 138/8 after Malinga and Mendis helped themselves to some late wickets.
The 57 run win for the Lankans meant catastrophic consequences for the World Cup hosts whose net run rate suffered a great deal. It now means that Gayle and his men would have to win their remaining fixtures and at the same hope for some providence when it comes to net run rate.
Sri Lanka: 195/3 (20 overs)
Jayawardene 98 (56)*Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Roach 2-27
Sangakkara 68 (49)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Bravo 1-38
West Indies: 138/8 (20 overs)
Sarwan 28 (33)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Mendis 3-24
Bravo 23 (23)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Malinga 3-28
Also Read:Â Pakistan vs. New Zealand Match Preview
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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