Bridgetown (Barbados), May 8 (IANS) Mahela Jayawardene smashed a superb 98 as Sri Lanka defeated the West Indies by 57 runs in their Group F match of the World Twenty20 at the Kensington Oval here Friday.
Jayawardene’s 56-ball innings was the centrepiece of the tournament’s highest total of 195 for three. Jayawardene and Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, who scored a 49-ball 68, shared a stand of 166 – the second highest in Twenty20 internationals surpassing the 170 put on by Loots Bosman and Graeme Smith for South Africa against England at Centurion last year.
The West Indies chase never threatened the Sri Lankan bowling attack and they made 138 for eight in 20 overs with Ramnaresh Sarwan emerging as the top scorer with 28 runs. Spinner Ajantha Mendis and fast bowler Lasith Malinga picked up three wickets each.
Good news for Sri Lanka was that spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was back in the side after recovering from a groin injury and took none for 26 from four overs, but his presence was a huge boost to Sri Lanka.
After Sangakkara opted to bat first on a bouncy track, Sri Lanka suffered an early set-back when the West Indies reduced them to seven for one after Sanath Jayasuriya (6), promoted back to an opening spot, was caught by Jerome Taylor off Kemar Roach.
But the second-wicket partnership between Sangakkara and Jayawardene not only helped Sri Lanka to recover, but it also took away the match away from the West Indies.
The West Indies allowed Sri Lanka to cash in by missing six opportunities. Sangakkara should have been out for nought after Roach took the outside edge but captain Chris Gayle dropped the catch at slip despite getting both hands to the ball. The Sri Lankan skipper got another chance when Kieron Pollard failed to hold a tough caught and bowled chance when the left-handed batsman was on 27.
Sangakkara proved a perfect foil to the elegant Jayawardene, went on to make 68 off 49 balls with three sixes and five fours.
Jayawardene, however, continued his sublime form and enjoyed his new role as a Twenty20 opener. The right-handed opener had previously made 81 against New Zealand and 100 against Zimbabwe. Jayawardene hit four sixes and nine fours during his 56 ball innings.
Jayawardene also got a a couple of lives, with left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn the unfortunate bowler on both occasions. Jayawardene, on 65, was beaten by a Benn flight but occasional wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher to miss the stumping. Again in the same over, Jayawardene had added only one to his score when a top-edge was skied behind but neither Fletcher nor short third man Wavell Hinds went for the catch and the ball fell safe.
While chasing, West Indies lost two wickets early on as Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Gayle both fell cheaply with the score at 23 for two. West Indies failed to recover from there and somehow limped to 138 for eight off 20 overs.
Sarwan (28) and Dwayne Bravo (23) were the notable contributors while extras was the third-highest with 17.