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Hetmyer’s best fails to stop Windies’ exit


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Hetmyer’s best fails to stop Windies’ exit
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Kusal Perera watches West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer play forward during his career-best 81 - WIPA picture

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Abu Dhabi – Shimron Hetmyer redeemed himself with a career-best, unbeaten 81, but defending champions West Indies booked their exit visa from the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup when they slumped to a 20-run defeat to Sri Lanka on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates.

Hetmyer struck eight fours and four sixes in an explosive 54-ball knock, but his last-ditch attempt to get the Windies past a target of 190 failed and the Caribbean side were booted from the tournament for the first time without reaching the semi-finals.

Hetmyer showed the range of his strokes on a humid night at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, dominating an unbroken ninth wicket stand of 38 with fellow left-hander Akeal Hosein.

But West Indies needed 58 from the last three overs, and the Sri Lankan bowlers – led by irrepressible leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga – maintained their nerve until the end to land their third win in four matches over the Caribbean side in T20 World Cups.

Hasaranga ended with the flattering figures of 2-19 from his allotted four overs, left-arm pacer Binura Fernando scalped 2-24 from two overs, and pacer Chamika Karunaratne grabbed 2-43 from four overs.

The result was the third loss for the Windies in four matches and left them stuck on only two points, after England beat them by six wickets and South Africa by eight wickets, before Kieron Pollard’s side rebounded to take a three-run win over Bangladesh.

“I think we were below par,” Pollard said after the match. “In a crucial match like this, you don’t want to see those things (poor fielding).

“Our bowlers did okay, they got 189, but it was a very good batting track. The way Sri Lanka played, they didn’t bat us out of the game, but played very smartly. Only three sixes, but 17 fours, so they didn’t give us chances, ran a lot of twos.”

Pollard added: “I think cricket smarts is something that has plagued us. We have spoken time and time again, especially from a batting perspective what we need to do as individuals, and we have not done well.

“A couple of young guys are putting up their hands, but the experienced guys, myself included, have not done well. We are not going to hide from the fact that it’s been disappointing for us. I’m sure all the guys are hurting in that dressing room. It’s something we didn’t see coming, but we have to face reality.”

The West Indies chase started disastrously when they lost left-handed openers Chris Gayle, the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss”, and Evin Lewis in the space of five balls in the second over from Fernando.

The horrific form that has engulfed Chris Gayle for the past two years continued when he was caught at mid-off for one from a miscued lofted drive, and Lewis was bowled for eight, swinging across the line four balls later.

West Indies were 10 for two, and they suffered another blow in the final over of the Power Play before they reached 50, when Roston Chase was caught at mid-wicket for nine off Karunaratne.

Nicholas Pooran and Hetmyer brought further stability with a stand of 30 for the fourth wicket.

Once Pooran was caught at deep mid-off for 46 off pacer Dushmantha Chameera, the Windies’ slender hopes of staying in the tournament were one again sacrified on the altar of mostly from swashbuckling strokes.

The Caribbean side’s lost five wickets for 54 runs between the 12th and 17th overs, leaving Hetmyer and the tail with too much work to do.

Earlier, West Indies failed to make their decision to field count, and Charith Asalanka hit 68 from 41 balls that earned him the Player-of-the-Match award, and opener Pathum Nissanka cracked 51 from the same number of balls to anchor Sri Lanka to 189 for three from their allocation of 20 overs.

Andre Russell was the most successful Windies bowler with 2-33 from his allotted four overs, but the Caribbean side failed to find the right formula to contain the Sri Lanka scoring, which was built around a stand of 91 for the second wicket between Asalanka and Nissanka.

West Indies face Australia in their final group match on Saturday at this same venue.

(AR)