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Sri Lanka cruised to their second win in the Super Eights after a bowling performance the equivalent of a tourniquet and effortless batting handed the West Indies a nine-wicket thrashing here, on Saturday. The hosts had scraped out Super Over win against New Zealand in their first match. This result was more easily achieved.
A restrictive attack confined the Windies to 129 for five - the lowest Twenty20 score at the venue - after Darren Sammy elected to bat, and a belligerent Mahela Jayawardene (65*,49b) ensured the target was achieved with 28 balls to spare.
Sri Lanka now have now have two wins in as many matches, with another game against England to go. With the Brits reputation against quality spin already tainted, Sri Lanka look a safe bet for the semi-finals from Group 1. For the West Indies, it was a crushing blow after their dominating win against England in the first match and their dependence on Chris Gayle was plain to see on Saturday.
Sri Lanka suffered just one stutter in their chase when Tillakaratne Dilshan was cramped for room by Ravi Rampaul and edged to the 'keeper. Jayawardene soon found his groove, carving the wicket-taker through point and slamming him for four over mid-wicket. The Lankan fifty came up in 5.5 overs, and the hundred in 13.2 overs, as a fluent Kumar Sangakkara (39*) and Jayawardene added 108 runs in just 75 balls. Jayawardene reached his fifty in 45 balls, with ten fours and a huge six off Sammy, and helped Lanka achieve their biggest Twenty20 win in terms of balls remaining.
It was Lanka's bowling that set up the win. The West Indies found themselves unable to break the shackles imposed on them by an eclectic attack. They finished on 129 for 5, the lowest Twenty20 International total at Pallekele. Marlon Samuels (50) and Dwayne Bravo (40) put up the only resistance with a 65-run stand for the third wicket after Chris Gayle had his first failure of the tournament. Mendis bowled a miserly four overs for 12, picking up two wickets and Nuwan Kulasekara took the pace off the pall to alarming effect - as Gayle found out when he edged a concealed off-break to Kumar Sangakkara behind the wicket.
It didn't help the Windies' cause that Jeevan Mendis's legbreaks and Lasith Malinga's yorkers proved equally hard to get away. It was Malinga, however, who conceded the first boundaries in his first over to Johnson Charles, who after being bamboozled out of his wits by Ajantha was stumped off a googly in the fifth over.
Gayle departed next, after a nine-ball two, done in by Kulasekara's disguised dolly, and Samuels and Bravo came together to forge the only decent partnership of the innings. Bravo sparkled through the off-side against Angelo Mathews and stroked sixes off Rangana Herath - in the side for the facially injured Akila Dananjaya - and Ajantha. He looked solid in his 34-ball 40, but fell to Jeevan in the 15th over, pulling the leg-spinner to be caught at long on.
The West Indies were 90-3 after 15 overs, and they lost Kieron Pollard in the next over - yorked by Ajantha's faster one, the spinners 100th Twenty20 wicket including domestic scalps. Andre Russell joined Samuels, and a loose 18th over form Kulasekara saw the Windies make a surge towards a challenging total. Both Rusell and Samuels scored sixes and Samuels added a couple of fours as well, as Kulasekara leaked 21. Samuels reached his fifty in the 19th over and perished in the ultimate, when his skier was held smartly by Dilshan in the outfield. Mendis finished with unbelievable figures of 4-1-12-2, six of those 12 runs coming off one shot.