By Sean Devers in
Barbados In association with
Leisure Inn & Carib Beer
The West Indies supporters, like they did in Guyana, flocked the Kensington Oval yesterday to urge their team on and the Regional team responded with a forgettable performance which leaves them needing convincing wins against India on Sunday and Australia on Tuesday if they hope to progress to their 2nd consecutive ICC World 20/20 semi-final.
It was not so much the end result against Sri Lanka but the process of getting there that disappointed the thousands of fans who in true Caribbean Carnival fashion danced, waved flags and even prayed for a miracle once Skipper Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were dismissed in successive overs as the West Indies chased the 195-3 off 20 overs made by Sri Lanka.
Ramnaresh Sarwan (28) and Dwayne Bravo (23) added 53 for the 3rd wicket but they struggled to get the ball away and no other batsman reached 20 as the hosts crawled to 138-8 when their overs expired in a one-sided match which again belonged to the breathtakingly magnificent Mahela Jayawardene and which was marred by atrocious fielding and catching by West Indies.
The artistic right-hander, with scores of 81 and 100 in the first round produced another majestic display of elegance and class and even some of the home team supporters would have been disappointed as he finished two short of becoming the only person to score two 20/20 International centuries.
His clinically crafted unbeaten 98 came from just 56 balls and was decorated with 9 fours and 4 sixes and although school-boyish incompetence by Wicket-Keeper Andre Fletcher and veteran Wavell Hinds let him off twice in one over from left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn, the beauty and nonchalant ease of his stroke-play was a joy to behold for even those who consider the slug-feast of 20/20 cricket a huge circus.
That Sarwan, who is a similar type of player to Jayawardene, took 33 balls for his 28 at a strike rate of under 90, never managed to get the ball away and emphasised the Sri Lankan’s ability to pierce the field by manipulating the ball into gaps.
Sri Lanka, who beat West Indies in last year’s semi-finals in England, elected to bat first on a track with pace and bounce and quickly lost 41-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya (6) at 7-1 as he pulled Kemar Roach to short fine-leg.
Jayawardene got little support as his team lost to New Zealand and beat Zimbabwe to qualify for the 2nd stage but yesterday Skipper Kumar Sangakkara stepped up with an important 49-ball 68 with 5 fours and 3 sixes and although he was not as fluent as his partner, the 166 runs they added for the 2nd wicket set up their eventual victory.
When Kieron Pollard dropped Jayasuriya in the 2nd over off Jerome Taylor and Gayle put down Sangakkara at slip in Taylor’s next over, signs of an ordinary West Indies performance in the field were already evident.
Both Roach and Taylor were playing their first game of the series and while they bowled with pace they were too short and wide and the Sri Lankans, as they did to Pakistan in the last final, made them pay with an array of scintillating square-of-the-wicket shots on the lush green outfield.
The partnership was finally broken in the penultimate over at 173-2 when Sangakkara picked out Pollard at long-off to give Bravo a wicket after the Sri Lankan Captain had been dropped off his own bowling by Pollard on 27. Benn should have had Jayawardene, one of only 4 batsmen with 20/20 International centuries, when Fletcher, picked to wicket keep because of Denesh Ramdin’s poor form with the bat, missed an off-side stumping off a wide with the batsman ‘miles’ out of his ground.
Two balls later a skied offering went to ground as Fletcher and Hinds at short 3rd man could not decide who would take the catch and nobody touched it in the end as it fell between the two fielders as Benn, his team-mates and the screaming crowd watched in disbelief as the comedy unfolded.
Roach (2-27 from 4) bowled Chamara Kapugedara (6) in the final over to deny Jayawardene the chance to face to final ball but the damage had already been done.
Gayle (5) got going with a four off his hips and Chanderpaul (11) flicked Angelo Matthews for a six and stroked him past mid-off for 4 in the 2nd over before he unleashed a rare wild swipe and skied a catch to point.
When Gayle was taken at cover off the leading edge as he tried to play a ball from Nuwan Kulasekara to mid-wicket, the hosts were 23-2 and even the raucous party stand at Kensington Oval was stunned into silence.
After Bravo drove Lasith Malinga to cover at 76-3 in the 11th over and Sarwan hit a tame catch back to Ajantha Mendis six runs and two overs later, even the die-hard fans had given up.
Fletcher’s 16 and Taylor’s 15 not out were only other double-figure contributions.
The brainless demise of the highly paid and highly over-rated Pollard who slogged a ball high into the air to be taken at long-on for 9 from 10 with 5 overs left was disappointing if not totally unpredictable.
Pollard’s dismissal off Mendes left the West Indies on 99-5 and lowered his already poor 20/20 International average to under 11.
Daren Sammy (2) and Wavell Hinds, who batted at number eight and did not bowl looked clueless in his 5, were both trapped leg before and on a day that the West Indies girls upstaged their male counter-parts by beating England by 2 runs in St Lucia, the inconsistent men’s team did well in the end to bat out their overs as Malinga had 3-28 and Mendes 3-24.
While Sri Lanka were strengthened by the inclusion of Muttiah Muralitharan who had been ruled out of the entire tournament due to a groin injury in Guyana, the West Indies were forced to leave out Narsingh Deonarine due to a ‘flu’ and Hinds could be the man out on Sunday if the Guyanese is fit enough to play.
The selectors axe could also be on Pollard, who has done well for his native T&T and IPL team Mumbai Indians but seems incapable or not motivated enough to produce in West Indies colours.
Today Pakistan play New Zealand and England face South Africa.
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