Fletcher, Badree dominate Sri Lanka

21 March 2016

West Indies make it two from two in a low-scoring and controversial affair in Bengaluru

ICC World T20 - Men,


The match in a tweet: Windies claim controversial affair. Badree brilliant with 3-12 as Sri Lanka stumble to 9-122, before Fletcher stars in Gayle's absence and fortune favours Calypso Kings

The hero: It was going to take an outstanding innings from someone to beat the superb bowling performance of Samuel Badree, but that's exactly what we got from unheralded opener Andre Fletcher. The Windies wisely opted to play the extra batsman, so Fletcher came in for paceman Jerome Taylor, and when Chris Gayle tweaked a hamstring (more on that below), the 28-year-old found himself promoted to the top of the order. He duly performed an outstanding Gayle impression, blazing 84no from 64 deliveries with five sixes to get his side home with seven wickets and 10 balls to spare in a tenser contest than that end result might suggest.

The moment: With 48 needed from 36 and Sri Lanka's spinners closing in for the kill, Fletcher hammered two sixes from the bowling of Milinda Siriwardana. It was a crucial double blow at a critical time, bringing the required run rate down to a reasonable one in challenging conditions for the batsmen. Controversy and more drama was to follow, but this was the moment that put the Windies in the box seat for the run home.

WATCH: Badree leaves Lankans in a spin

The support cast: Badree was simply bewitching in running through the Sri Lankan middle order, claiming 3-12 in four overs as his accuracy and subtle variations did the damage. Dwayne Bravo was also excellent with the ball, his change of pace responsible for the key – and rather bizarre – wicket of Angelo Mathews.   

WATCH: Bravo claims Mathews in bizarre fashion

The consolation effort: Thisara Perera's late hitting at least made a match of it in Bangalore, his 40 from 29 a crucial hand as the Sri Lankans struggled with the bat. Little-known spin pair Siriwardana (2-33) and Jeffrey Vandersay (1-11) also threatened to turn the Windies' run chase into a disaster, however their control of the middle overs was all too brief for the defending champs, who couldn't maintain the pressure.  

The talking point: Gayle's hamstring. The extent of the damage is at this point unknown but the crowd in Bangalore (his home fans in the Indian Premier League, in which he plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore) were extremely vocal about the fact they wanted to see the Jamaican entertainer with bat in hand. At one point it appeared they would get their wish, however, given the time he'd spent off the field in the first innings, Gayle was forced to wait for the fall of a fourth wicket until his opportunity, which ultimately never came. That might be a good thing for the Windies, who will be sweating on his fitness ahead of their next match.

The stat: Fletcher's unbeaten 84 is the highest individual score by anyone other than Gayle in a West Indies T20 run chase. Gayle has bettered that score on three occasions.

WATCH: Non-catch controversy mars Windies win

The controversy: Fletcher edged behind with 29 still needed from 30 deliveries, and Denesh Ramdin claimed what looked to be a fair catch just above the ground. After initially being given out, the umpires convened and opted to review the catch. Depending on your viewpoint, the ball either bounced short - and third umpire Simon Fry's ruling of 'out' was correct - or the ball hit Ramdin's fingers before bouncing deeper into his gloves, in which case the wrong call was made.  

The wash-up: It's now difficult to see Sri Lanka finding a way to progress to the semi-finals. Their next clash is against England on Saturday in Delhi. West Indies, on the other hand, are flying – they're two from two and will be primed for a clash with South Africa in Nagpur on Friday.