Wretched Windies slump to 57-run defeat

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Awful fielding, terrible bowling, and disastrous batting epitomised a 57-run defeat for West Indies at the hands of Sri Lanka in the Twenty20 World Cup yesterday.

West Indies failed miserably in their pursuit of 196 for victory from their allocation of 20 overs in the fourth Super Eight match before a near-capacity crowd at Kensington Oval. Ramnaresh Sarwan made the top score of 28, and Dwayne Bravo got 23, as Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga undermined West Indies’ batting with their clever bowling to collect three wickets apiece.

This followed a horrific performance from West Indies in the field, when they bowled waywardly, spilled a handful of catches, and stand-in ‘keeper Andre Fletcher missed a crucial stumping.

They also missed another that let Mahela Jayawardene off the hook in an undefeated 98 from 56 balls, which earned him the Man-of-the-Match award, and led Sri Lanka to the highest total in the competition so far of 195 for three from their 20 overs.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul got West Indies going in their chase in an action-packed second over delivered by Angelo Mathews.

The typically obdurate left-hander essayed a scoop/sweep over deep backward square leg for six off the second ball, and stroked an off-drive for four from the penultimate ball.

But Chanderpaul got carried away, and tried to slog/sweep the final delivery from outside the off-stump, and was caught at short third man for 11 off the top-edge.

West Indies then suffered a major setback, when their captain Chris Gayle was caught at cover off Nuwan Kulasekara for five from the leading edge looking to turn a ball into the leg-side.

Bravo joined Sarwan, and they consolidated with a stand of 53 for the third wicket.

They got into the swing of things with a couple of lusty blows, including Sarwan’s lofted extra cover drive for four off Thisara Perera, and Bravo’s equally attractive version off Muralitharan that sailed to the wide long-off boundary in the 10th over.

Next over, Bravo was caught at cover off Malinga driving loosely, and Sarwan fell two overs later, when he offered a tame return catch to Mendis from the leading edge to leave West Indies 82 for four.

The rest of the hosts’ batting – including the Indian Premier League star Kieron Pollard, and left-hander Wavell Hinds – failed to bring some respectability to the innings, and West Indies lost four more wickets for 23 runs in the space of 19 balls.

Earlier, Pollard, at gully, dropped Sanath Jayasuriya, on five, off Jerome Taylor in the second over, after Sri Lanka chose to bat.

But West Indies were fortunate, when the experienced Sri Lankan opener was caught at short fine leg miscuing a hook off Roach in the next over.

West Indies could have tightened their grip had slip fielder Gayle held a low chance diving to his right, when Kumar Sangakkara, on zero, drove loosely and edged a delivery from Taylor in the fourth over.

West Indies had another chance to dismiss the Sri Lanka captain on 27, but Pollard failed to hold a difficult return chance high to his right in the 10th over.

For the next nine overs, West Indies’ attack was battered into submission by Jayawardene and Sangakkara, whose 68 from 49 balls contained five fours and three sixes.

For once, Darren Sammy proved expensive, and Jayawardene paddled his 29th ball from the medium-pacer to deep fine leg for his sixth four to reach his 50.

The typically miserly Sulieman Benn should have had Jayawardene stumped on 66, but Fletcher muffed a wide, high take in the 15th over.

Benn was tucked away to deep mid-wicket for a single to see Sangakkara reach his 50 from 38 balls.

Two balls later, the beanpole left-arm spinner should have had Jayawardene, when he top-edged a sweep on 67, but Fletcher and Hinds failed to communicate and the ball dropped safely between the two bewildered fielders.

West Indies shoulders drooped further, and Jayawardene and Sangakkara continued merrily until the Sri Lanka captain was caught at long-off off Dwayne Bravo in the 19th over.

West Indies face India in their second Super Eight match tomorrow, when Sri Lanka meet Australia.

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