WIvSL, 1st T20…..Windies lose despite Fletcher half century

Embattled West Indies failed to arrest their losing skid on their already failed tour of Sri Lanka when they crashed to a 30-run defeat in the opening Twenty20 International here Monday.

Chasing an imposing 216 for victory at the Pallekele International Stadium, the Caribbean side were dismissed for 185 with one delivery remaining in the innings, as the misery which began in the two-Test rubber and continued in the one-day series, followed them into the game’s shortest format.

Opener Andre Fletcher smashed 57 off 40 balls – his fourth T20I half-century – and Kieron Pollard chipped in with 26 and Dwayne Bravo, 24, but West Indies never really recovered from a position of 29 for two in the fifth over and failed to keep up with the required run rate of nearly 11 an over.

They were undone by off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake who scythed through the middle and lower order with a spell of four for 46, to earn Man-of-the-Match honours.

Captain Lasith Malinga picked up two for 19 while off-spinner Milinda Siriwardana claimed two for 41, to support Senanayake.

Asked to bat first earlier, Sri Lanka were dominant from the outset, as they piled up 215 for three off their 20 overs.

Opener Tillakaratne Dilshan blasted 56 off 37 balls, Dinesh Chandimal stroked a 19-ball, unbeaten 40 while opener Kusal Perera got 40 from 30 deliveries.

All-rounder Angelo Mathews produced an awe-inspiring 13-ball unbeaten 37 and Shehan Jayasuriya, 36 off 32 balls, as every Sri Lankan batsman cashed in.

Medium pacer Kieron Pollard captured two for 40 but West Indies found themselves virtually powerless to stall Sri Lanka’s rampage.

It started at the top with Dilshan and Perera adding 91 off 58 balls for the first wicket, a partnership that set the tone for the rest of the innings. The right-handed Dilshan struck eight fours and Perera, a left-hander, six fours and one six.

Pollard, however, got the breakthrough, removing both batsmen in successive overs in the space of 13 deliveries to leave Sri Lanka on 101 for two in the 12th over but Jayasuriya and Chandiman put on 54 for the third wicket off 27 balls to sustain the tempo.

The left-handed Jayasuriya, who struck two fours and two sixes and took 23 from Pollard’s final over, was eventually brilliantly caught and bowled by off-spinner Sunil Narine running backward.

But there would be no let up and Mathews and Chandimal then produced an astonishing display of power-hitting to rattle up 60 off 22 deliveries in an unbroken fourth wicket partnership.

Chandimal hammered four fours and two sixes, combining with Mathews to take 22 runs from the 18th over by Bravo while Mathews clobbered two fours and four sixes as the last five overs leaked 72 runs.

In reply, fast bowler Malinga then yorked Johnson Charles middle stump without a run on the board off the second ball of the innings and Marlon Samuels followed, holing out to deep midwicket off Senanayake for ten.

Fletcher and Andre Russell (16) counter-attacked in a 48-run, third wicket stand off 19 deliveries, a stand that raised the hopes of the visitors if only temporarily.

The right-handed Fletcher crunched three fours and six sixes – two coming in one over – the sixth of the innings – from debutant seamer Dushmanta Chameera which cost 19 runs.

Russell struck two sixes before missing a heave at Siriwardana and going bowled in the eighth over and five balls later, Fletcher’s cameo ended when he was bowled off-stump by Chameera, attempting to make room to cut at 86 for four in the ninth over.

Pollard and Bravo then offered West Indies hope, albeit faint, in a fifth wicket partnership worth 51 off 27 deliveries, to lift the ailing innings to 137 for four in the 13th over.

Both batsmen struck a pair of fours and sixes but fell within four balls of each other in separate overs to leave the Windies struggling once more.

Captain Darren Sammy (3) and Jason Holder (2) perished in the 15th over with the score on 143 as West Indies lost four wickets for six runs in the space of 11 balls – a position from which they could not recover.