An Overdue Win for SL

Sri Lanka beat the West Indies by 20 runs.

Sri Lanka 189/3

West Indies 169/8

In a game that included some of T20’s biggest stars – Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and others – it was a bunch of youngsters under the age of 27 that stood out. It’s possible that the baton has been passed.

Charith Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka put up a 91-run second-wicket partnership off 61 balls to help set up a total of 189 for 3, which felt dominating even on a strong Abu Dhabi track. Both were in their fifties, but Asalanka’s was superior. Wanindu Hasaranga got two more wickets to finish with 16 for the tournament, a T20 World Cup record.

The greats didn’t show for West Indies, but two young hitters did, and despite the mediocrity around them, they pulled West Indies to within 20 runs of Sri Lanka’s total. Shimron Hetmyer was the more significant of the two with an 81 off 54. Nicholas Pooran hit 46 out of 34. No other hitter from the West Indies reached double figures.

Asalanka was not even in Sri Lanka’s starting XI before the competition began. After that, he took over for Dinesh Chandimal, who had struggled in the first two games. While the spinners were in action, he found frequent boundaries, worked the singles and twos efficiently the rest of the time, and Sri Lanka was cruising along at more than eight an over for most of their innings, owing in large part to him. Nissanka, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as consistent with his boundary striking, but he did find enough of runs on the legside and took smart chances that generally paid off in his 51 off 41 balls. The match was characterized by their collaboration.

Sri Lanka had set themselves up wonderfully with their second-wicket partnership, but they still needed a boost to go into the dominating territory they finally reached. Dasun Shanaka moved up the order and delivered his finest batting performance of the competition, hitting six and two fours in a 25-run innings off 14 balls.

Gayle, who has won so many T20 international matches, has now played four weak innings in a succession. He struck one single and then holed out to mid-off, playing his first aggressive shot of the game. West Indies’ hopes were further harmed when Evin Lewis and Roston Chase were both removed from the Powerplay.

If there was one half-decent stand, it was Pooran and Hetmyer’s 30-run stand, which lasted until Pooran fell early. The needed rate had risen too much over 12 by that time. When Pooran fell, Hetmyer began to play much more aggressively, but wickets continued to tumble at the other end. West Indies may have come close if another hitter had supplied a quick 35.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, was great with the ball and on the field, and they effectively ended the match.