By Srian Obeyesekere
West Indies produced the type of gun ho batting and bowling they were once renowned for when the Calypso nation ruled cricket nearly four decades ago with an electrifying 194 for 6 in 20 overs that proved too much for Sri Lanka who were bowled out for 171 in 19.1 overs in the first of two T20s at the Pallekelle International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
The tourists broke the back of the Lankan batting with the hosts 5 down for 56 in just 6 overs with Oshane Thomas the wrecker sending back Avishka Fernando for 7, No’s 3 and 4 Shehan Jayasuriya and Kusal Mendis for ducks and next man in Angelo Mathews for 10 followed by Dasun Shanaka for 2. That the hosts came within 24 runs of their target was due to a 87-run sixth wicket fight back led by opening batsman Kusal Janith Perera, who tied the nuptial knock this week, and Wanindu Hasaranga. It was the perfect Player of the Match showpiece performance by Thomas.
Perera tried to arrest the damage as he blazed his way to a 38-ball 66 containing 3 sixes and 6 boundaries with Hasaranga too clouting 44 off 34 balls. But when Hasaranga fell with the total on 143 off the third delivery of the 16th over bowled by Powell it signaled the end. Perera followed an over later for the addition of 8 runs and with 7 wickets gone for 151 in 17.3 overs the asking rate was too much even for the big hitting Thisara Perera to pull it off as he departed for 11 off 7 and the West Indies pounced to a well earned victory in breaking their barren run on tour to take a 1-nil lead.
The West Indian onslaught was spearheaded by openers Lendl Simmons Who pummeled an unbeaten 51-ball 67 enriched with 7 boundaries and 2 sixes and Brandon King who made 33 off 25 with 5 boundaries and a six in a 50-ball 74-run partnership as the Lasith Malinga-Thisara Perera combination wilted. No. 4 Andre Russel speeded up proceedings with a whirlwind 14-ball 35 hitting 4 sixes and 2 boundaries and next man in skipper Kieron Pollard was as equally charged up clobbering a 15-ball 34 with 2 sixes and 3 boundaries.
West Indies 194/6 (20 Overs) Run rate: 9.8 (L.M.P. Simmons n.o. 67, A. D. Russel 35, K.A. Pollard 34, B.A. King 33, N.Pooran14, P.W.H. de Silva 1/33, S.L. Malinga 1/37, I. Udana 1/41)
Sri Lanka 171 All Out 19.1 Overs Run rate: 8.9 (M.D.K. J. Perera 66, P.W.H. de Silva 44 , N.L.T.C. Perera 11, O. Thomas 5/28 5, R. Powell 2/31)
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-