By Shehan Daniel reporting from Pallekele
Brandon King set the tone early in the chase before Andre Russell’s merciless assault on the home side’s bowlers took the West Indies to a seven-wicket win against Sri Lanka at the Pallekele International Stadium today (06).
Walking in with the West Indies needing 53 off 42 balls, Russell went on to score 40 of those runs by himself – 30 of which came exclusively in sixes – in just 14 balls, powering his team across the line with three full overs to spare.
The win gave the West Indies, who are also the defending T20 World Champions, a 2-0 series whitewash, and serves as a timely reminder for the hosts that a lot of work needs to be done if they are to challenge at this year’s world cup.
Sri Lanka were also dealt a blow early in the Windies innings when leg-spin all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga pulled up injured, meaning the hosts were effectively short of one of their front-line bowlers.
King took an aggressive approach at the top of the order, scoring six boundaries in the power-play overs, before capping that six-over phase with consecutive sixes off Lasith Malinga, at which point he had scored 43 of the West Indies’ 61 runs.
He failed to add to his score before he was caught by Malinga in Lahiru Kumara’s first over, the eighth of the innings, but the blitz meant the West Indies could ease into the rest of their chase and nullify Sri Lanka’s early success with the dismissal of Lendl Simmons.
The rate slowed a bit, even though it resulted in a 32-ball 34-run partnership between Shimron Hetmyer and Rovman Powell for the third-wicket.
Powell’s dismissal in the 13th over, caught brilliantly by Shehan Jayasuriya on the boundary, brought Russell to bat.
After taking a single to open his account, Russell scored back to back sixes on the next two balls he faced, against Kumara, and then cleared Thisara Perera in the next over for what was the furthest six of the lot.
There was a mini-battle between Russell and Sri Lankan captain Malinga, with the West Indian adding his fourth sixth off Malinga, before the bowler had one back with a yorker that floored Russell.
But much like the result of the match and series, Russell had the last laugh when he clubbed the last ball of that over over the deep midwicket boundary.
That left the West Indies needing seven off four overs, but it took only six further balls with Russell finishing the game with another six.
Hetmyer, who had anchored the chase since the loss of the first wicket, was 29 when Russell walked out to bat, and was happy to let his partner do the damage, finishing unbeaten on 43 off 42 balls.
A late flourish, a partnership of 46 off 23 balls between Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera, had pushed Sri Lanka past the 150-run mark, but it came after the hosts had struggled to gain any momentum through the middle overs.
Sri Lanka lost the wicket of Avishka Fernando in the third over during a scratchy power-play period that gave the hosts just 44 runs.
Kusal Janith Perera and Shehan Jayasuriya did just about enough to keep the score ticking even though they didn’t look particularly fluent, perhaps due to West Indies captain Kieron Pollard shuffling through his bowlers in that passage of play, but they both fell in the over immediately after the power-play leaving Sri Lanka in an almost similar situation to one they were in in the first T20I, when they lost their first four wickets for 41 runs.
Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis put on a partnership of 33 and 28 balls, that was busy with glances and dabs and running between the wickets, but a lack of boundaries between the seventh and 17th over, meant there was no momentum.
For all the restraint that both batsmen showed, they were also guilty of gifting their wickets away.
Mendis flicked a loose ball from Dwayne Bravo – a full toss at his pads – to Powell at deep square leg in the 12th over before Mathews ran himself out two overs later.
Working the ball to short fine leg Mathews took off for a single, leaving enough time for Allen to hit the stumps and find the scampering batsman short of his crease.
Sri Lanka had only 116 at the end of the 17th over, but Shanaka and Perera plundered 39 off the last three overs to give Sri Lanka a fighting total.
K. Perera c Simmons b Allen 15
A. Fernando b Thomas 09
S. Jayasuriya c Powell b Allen 16
K. Mendis c Powell b Bravo 11
A. Mathews run out 23
D. Shanaka not out 31
W. Hasaranga c Hetmyer b Cottrell 08
T. Perera not out 21
Extras: (nb1, w10, b5, lb5) 21
Total: (6 wickets, 20 overs) 155
Fall: 1-16, 2-48, 3-48, 4-81, 5-95, 6-109
Bowling: Fabian Allen 4-0-24-2, Sheldon Cottrell 4-0-29-1, Oshane Thomas 4-0-24-1, Andre Russell 4-0-33-0, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-35-1
L. Simmons b Mathews 09
B. King c Malinga b Kumara 43
S. Hetmyer not out 43
R. Powell c Jayasuriya b Shanaka 17
A. Russell not out 40
Extras: (w6) 06
Total: (3 wickets, 17 overs) 158
Fall: 1-23, 2-69, 3-103
Bowling: Lasith Malinga 3-0-46-0, Thisara Perera 3-0-20-0, Angelo Mathews 4-0-26-1, Shehan Jayasuriya 1-0-11-0, Lakshan Sandakan 2-0-17-0, Lahiru Kumara 3-0-28-1