Samuel Badree stifled Sri Lanka with an exceptional spell before Andre Fletcher hammered an unbeaten 84 as the West Indies cruised to a seven-wicket win over the defending champions in a Group I ICC T20 World Cup 2016.
The Caribbean side ticked all the boxes right from winning the toss to restricting Sri Lanka to 122 for nine and finally overhauling the target in 18.2 overs.
They now sit at the top of the table in Group I with two wins from as many matches.
Leg-spinner Badree tore into the Sri Lankan top-order by hitting the right areas outside the off stump with amazing consistency as he gave away only 12 runs in his four overs and accounted for three batsmen after opting to bowl.
Sri Lanka struggled to recover after losing half the side inside 10 overs and it was Thisara Perera’s fiery 40-run knock that gave them something to fight to for.
The huge crowd wanted to see the big-hitting Chris Gayle to bat but he did not come out to open after pulling his hamstring while fielding.
Fletcher was no Gayle but he entertained the crowd with his power-hitting. He punished the bowlers by smashing six fours and five sixes in his knock that came off 64 balls.
The track was helping the spinners but Fletcher negated it well by reaching to pitch of the ball. He batted fearlessly from one end but the other West Indies batsmen struggled.
Opener Johnson Charles (10) and Marlon Samuels (3) were victims of turning balls with Milinda Siriwardana (2/33) and Jeffrey Vandersay troubling the batsmen a lot.
In the absence of Gayle, the West Indies innings lacked pace but they had wickets in hand and a manageable required run-rate.
Fletcher completed his half-century with a single off Siriwardana in the and 13th over and 38 off his 50 runs had come from fours and sixes.
His innings was a superb mix of caution and aggression considering the conditions. His monstrous sixes off Siriwardana at the start of the 15th over nearly pushed Sri Lanka out of the game and it was matter of time that West Indies complete the chase.
Sri Lanka did not help their cause by dropping catches.
Earlier, Badree’s spell meant that Sri Lanka had lost half the side before the 10th over. Runs were hard to come by and there was a time when the gap between two boundaries was 44 balls.
Tall left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn also contributed in stifling the Lankan innings as he conceded only 13 runs in his four-over quota even as he did not take a wicket.
Sri Lanka owed their score to Thisara Perera, who top scored for the defending champion with a 40-run knock off 29 balls. The left-hander also added 44 runs for the sixth wicket with skipper Angelo Mathews (20).
Mathews and Perera’s partnership ended when the former was out in a bizarre manner. He tried to duck a slow full toss from Dwayne Bravo but the ball kissed the bat and flew towards Dinesh Ramdin, who took an easy catch.
Perera kept fighting hard and found a few boundaries towards the end before holing it up to Andre Russell off Dywane Bravo (2/21).
At the start, Andre Rusell bowled loose and was duly punished with Tillakaratne Dilshan (12) creaming off a six and a four in the very first over but the opener was trapped by Carlos Brathwaite at the start of the fourth over.
The TV replays showed that the ball would have missed the leg stump but the damage was done. The Lankans had more disappointment in store as Dinesh Chandimal was run out when Lahiru Thirimanne sent him back.
Badree soon scalped Thirimanne, who hit straight to point fielder Fletcher. He continued to torment the defending champions as he dismissed two batsmen in the ninth over.
He had Chamara Kapugedera stumped in the first ball and next in line was Milinda Siriwardene, who drove but managed an edge which flew to first slip Chris Gayle.
Had it not been for Perera’s fighting knock, the Lanaks would have struggled to go past even 100. He was out in the penultimate ball of the innings.