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Windies fail to counter Sri Lanka’s leg-spin plan


Windies fail to counter Sri Lanka’s leg-spin plan

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COOLIDGE – A well-worn cliché that has become too commonplace with West Indies over the past two decades seemed quite appropriate after they suffered another inexplicable batting collapse in the second Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka in Antigua.

Windies will simply have to return to the drawing board and come up with a different plan, after the Sri Lankans bamboozled their batsmen with a trio of leg-spinners to draw level 1-1 in the three-match series.

Chasing 161 for victory, the Caribbean side’s batsmen failed to adapt to the slow and turning nature of the Coolidge Cricket Ground pitch under the lights and the visitors’ leg-spinners captured seven wickets between them to help their side claim a 44-run win.

Obed McCoy, batting at 10, used the long handle and clouted two four and two sixes in the top score of 23 for West Indies and Lendl Simmons made 21, but no other batsman reached 20.

Apart from a 36-run stand between Simmons and Chris Gayle, the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss”, there was no substance nor stability from the Windies batting and Lakshan Sandakan ended with the flattering figures of three for 10 from 3.4 overs and Player-of-the-Match Wanindu Hasaranga grabbed three for 17 from his four overs.

The result was formalised, when rookie Kevin Sinclair was caught at deep mid-wicket for three off Sandakan from a miscued pull with eight balls remaining to put a wide grin on the face of Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur.

As he punched the air in triumph, Arthur brought to mind the popular refrain of the cigar-chewing character, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, played by the late George Peppard, on television’s, The A-Team: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

The plan, indeed, came together, but not for the home team, and now they have two days to come up with a different plan to counter the Sri Lankan spinners in the series decider on Sunday at the same venue, starting at 6 p.m.

Windies fail to counter Sri Lanka’s leg-spin plan
West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo reacts after taking a wicket. (Photo courtesy CWI Media/Philip Spooner)

“At the end of the day, we can say all sorts of things, but we did not get the total,” West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said about his side’s batting.

“I thought a couple of the dismissals were a bit soft and we did not play our match-ups. We had the left-right combination (opening the batting) for a reason…but it is just about figuring it out mentally and coming and trying to put it right.”

He added: “It will be an important game on Sunday. For us, we are going to look to come out and win, but we also want to come out and be positive.

“At the end of the day, that is the sort of cricket that we play. We play with intent, but we have to use our smarts and use our match-ups pretty well, and I think we will be fine.”

Earlier, West Indies were under early pressure, when the Sri Lanka opening pair of Danushka Gunathalika and Pathum Nissanka confidently put on 95 for the first wicket through the first half of the innings.

As he is apt to do in any T20 match, Dwayne Bravo changed the flow of the game with a sharp bit of fielding off his own bowling in his first over.

The experienced all-rounder threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end to run out the scampering Nissanka for 37 in the 11th over.

Three balls later, Bravo added the scalp of Gunathalika caught at wide mid-off for the top score of 56 from 42 balls, and he followed up with the wicket of Dinesh Chandimal caught at short fine leg in his second over.

Bravo ended with two for 25 from his four overs to be the pick of the Windies bowlers and the Sri Lankans again failed to gain any momentum down the stretch.

“(The Sri Lankans) got off to a very good start, 90-odd in about 10 overs, and I thought we pulled them back pretty well in the last 10 overs, so it shows the guys are executing,” Pollard said about the Windies bowlers.

“They are clear in what they want to do and it’s just a matter of us taking our chances and squeezing the Sri Lankan batsmen a bit more.”

Summarised scores:

SRI LANKA 160 for six off 20 overs (Danushka Gunalithaka 56, Pathun Nissanka 37, Ashen Bandara 21, Wanindu Hasaranga 19, Angelo Mathews 13; Dwayne Bravo 2-25).

WEST INDIES 117 all out of 18.4 overs (Obed McCoy 23, Lendl Simmons 21, Chris Gayle 16, Kieron Pollard 13, Fabian Allen 12; Lakshan Sandakan 3-10, Wanindu Hasaranga 3-17, Dushmantha Chameera 2-26).