World T20: Fletcher propels West Indies to the top of the group

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World T20: Fletcher propels West Indies to the top of the group

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Arun S Kaimal

03/20/2016

Andre Fletcher made sure that West Indies did not miss Chris Gayle, who picked up an injury while fielding, as his blazing knock of 84 runs guided West Indies to a 7-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Bengaluru. Earlier, Sri Lanka posted a meager total of 122 after a middle-order collapse.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 122/9 in 20 overs (Thisara Perera 40(29), Angelo Mathews 20(32); Samuel Badree 3/12, Dwayne Bravo 2/20); West Indies 127/3 in 18.2 overs (Andre Fletcher 84(64)*, Andre Russell 20*(8))

West Indies received a big blow even before their innings started as Chris Gayle picked up a minor injury while fielding, and the news from the dressing room was that he would come on to bat only if it was absolutely required.

However, Andre Fletcher made sure that the big man is not missed as he went after the Sri Lankan bowlers in similar inhibited fashion. The opener hit two sixes and two fours in the first two overs as West Indies were off to a flying start.

Sri Lanka even gifted a life to Johnson Charles in the fourth over when Chamara Kapugedera spilled his catch at the midwicket boundary. But the batsman did not make full use of their respite as Jeffrey Vandersay dislodged his stumps after Johnson inside edged the ball while trying to guide the ball down to the third man.

Sri Lanka picked up wickets at regular intervals after that as Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin departed without making any significant contributions. Fletcher, though, continued his rampage from the other end, despite losing partners at the other, and completed his half-century in the 13th over. Mathews ran through all his options, but did not manage to get the wicket he was looking for.

Fletcher smashed five sixes and six boundaries in his innings of 84 runs, and he was ably supported by Andre Russell in the end. The duo formed a crucial 55-run partnership to guide West Indies to an emphatic seven-wicket win, with 10 balls remaining.

Earlier at the toss, Darren Sammy said that it felt like a home game for West Indies. After all, they were playing at the Chinnaswamy Stadium which has been Chris Gayle's second home since 2011. The Caribbean team made one change to the team which won so emphatically against England, with Andre Fletcher replacing Jerome Taylor.

Sri Lanka came into this game on the back of a comfortable win over Afghanistan, and like their opponent they made one change to their lineup – Jeffrey Vandersay replaced Shehan Jayasuriya.

West Indies won the toss and opted to bowl first on the night. Opening the innings, Tillakaratne Dilshan started from where he left off against Afghanistan and hit Andre Russell for a six and a four in consecutive deliveries in the opening over. However, Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn pulled things back, and the pressure paid off in the next over.

Carlos Brathwaite trapped Dilshan in front of the wicket and the umpire raised his finger – although the replays showed that the ball would have missed the stumps by a long way. That dismissal started a landslide and the Sri Lankan lineup fell apart like a pack of cards. From 20 for no loss, the scoreboard became 47/5 in a matter of 5.4 overs.

Badree produced a stunning spell of 3/12 in his four overs as he ran through the Sri Lankan middle order. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera tried to stabilize the innings and formed a crucial 44-run partnership. However, a high full toss caught Mathews off guard and he edged it behind to the keeper while attempting to evade the delivery.

That wicket opened the floodgates once again for West Indies. Perera was the only Sri Lankan batsman who offered any resistance, as he managed to deliver some hefty blows during his innings of 40 runs, which helped his side reach a score of 122 at the end of their 20 overs.

Ravi Rampaul or Shane Shillingford? Who will take more wickets?

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