A collective bowling performance from Sri Lanka and half-centuries by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene made short work of West Indies on the first day of warm-up matches for the World Twenty20 today.
Nuwan Kulasekara struck the early blows and West Indies could manage only 132, a target Sri Lanka achieved with 4.2 overs to spare.
The West Indies batsmen attacked in spurts, but could not maintain their assault as Sri Lanka prised regular wickets through disciplined bowling. The low Nondescripts Cricket Club wicket did not help timing, nor did it allow the West Indies’ hitters to achieve the elevation they might have preferred.
With Chris Gayle being rested, no sixes were hit during their innings. Even Kieron Pollard, who was at the crease for almost ten overs, could only manage two boundaries, digging out yorkers and patting away the spinners into the outfield.
Johnson Charles’ 30 from 26 stabilised West Indies after Kulasekara had removed both openers. Charles scored most of his runs square of the wicket, rising tall on the back foot to punch crisply through the offside for two of his three boundaries, before Sri Lanka placed a sweeper for the shot and adjusted their lengths.
Darren Bravo barely played a fluent stroke throughout his stay, his 29 – the second highest score for the West Indies – came off 31 balls.
Akila Dananjaya could not take a wicket from three overs on a pitch that appeared to have little in it for spinners, but both he and the Sri Lanka management will find an economy rate of less than six heartening.
Lasith Malinga’s yorkers were humming nicely toward the end of the innings, and the lack of bounce meant that he was difficult to punish even if the ball pitched slightly short. Kulasekara and Thisara Perera, who are both returning from injury, were the most expensive bowlers for Sri Lanka.
Dilshan Munaweera’s baptism against top level opposition threatened to be a swift one when Fidel Edwards rapped him on the shoe first ball, but having survived the raucous appeal and despite initially struggling to handle Edwards’ pace, Munaweera quickly began to find the square boundary off the other bowlers. He was dismissed attempting to pull Ravi Rampaul from outside off, when perhaps a cut or a dab to third man would have been more appropriate.
Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan progressed smoothly thereafter, punishing only the poor deliveries to begin with, before introducing scoops, reverse sweeps, and in Jayawardene’s case, a reverse pull, into their innings. Sunil Narine was dealt with without fuss, while Edwards also lost his sting as the ball grew softer.
The West Indies fast men showed hints of rust, with too many deliveries being picked off the pads, and several more being pitched short and wide.
Dilshan and Jayawardene both accelerated to their half-centuries and completed the chase in the 16th over.In the other warm-up game a half-century from Niall O’Brien and three wickets each from spinner George Dockrell and medium-pacer Alex Cusack helped Ireland beat Zimbabwe by 54 runs in Colombo.
Ireland were sent in to bat and made a quick start before losing their openers in successive overs. Niall O’Brien and Ed Joyce steadied the innings with an 83-run stand, and Niall O’Brien carried on to score 62 off 49 balls. Kevin O’Brien provided the finishing touches by smacking 30 off 14 balls to lead Ireland to 181.
Boyd Rankin gave the defence the perfect start by trapping Vusi Sibanda lbw first ball, before Hamilton Masakadza’s aggressive 44 off 27 balls powered Zimbabwe to 74 for 2 in the ninth over. Dockrell made the breakthrough by dismissing Masakadza and then got rid of Stuart Matsikenyeri the next ball. Cusack’s double strike in the 10th over reduced Zimbabwe to 75 for 6 and they did not recover. Zimbabwe slipped to 83 for 8 before the ninth-wicket partnership led them to 127.