T20: Russell (40* off 14) hands West Indies series weep

SUMMARY: West Indies 158-3 (King 43, Hetmyer 43*, Russell 40*) beat Sri Lanka 155-6 (Shanaka 31*, Allen 2-24) by 7 wickets


Sri Lanka limped their way to 155-6 on a good track in Pallekele, as West Indies put in a strong collective bowling effort.

The target was no match for West Indies’ batting might, as the visitors flew at over 10 an over in the Powerplay, before the middle order kept the score ticking, and Andre Russell then finished the game in a hail of sixes. They needed only 17 overs to complete the chase and complete a 2-0 whitewash of the T20I series.

Sri Lanka stutter through the early/middle overs

None of Sri Lanka’s first six partnerships were worth more than 33. That would almost be passable, if they had managed to score quickly. But they didn’t. Against West Indies’ varied and canny attack, most in the top order could not consistently find timing, with no one in the top five breaching 25.

Just as a partnership seemed to be developing, and it would be time for the pair to raise the tempo, the attempted big shot would go awry. Avishka Fernando was bowled by Oshane Thomas, swinging across the line. Kusal Perera holed out to point trying to cut Fabian Allen.

Shehan Jayasuriya was caught at deep midwicket, and Kusal Mendis sent a legside flick straight down the throat of deep square leg.

Despite a good final partnership between Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka, Sri Lanka had ceded too much ground earlier in their innings. Their total of 155 always seemed at least 15 short. Against this West Indies batting line up, it was probably 30 short.

Andre Russell struck six sixes

King of the Powerplay

West Indies hit 61 in the Powerplay, getting themselves well ahead of the rate. Of those runs, Brandon King had made 43. He’d also hit every single one of the boundaries.

He started with a flick of the wrists to send a wayward Lasith Malinga ball skimming away behind deep square leg for four, before busting out the big power shots. He blasted Angelo Mathews’ first ball through the covers, then clipped him beautifully behind square for a four later in that over.

Malinga bowled the final over of the Powerplay, and it was here that King really put West Indies well ahead of the required rate. He edged the third ball past the keeper for four, but later, launched Malinga over long on for six, before clobbering him over cow corner for another one.

He faced each of the balls in that over and reaped 19 runs. He’d be out in the eighth over for 43 off 21, but by then, West Indies were flying.

Cyclone Russell

At the other end of West Indies’ chase, an even more devastating innings. From who else, but Andre Russell? He came to the crease in the 13th over, when West Indies needed only 53 off 44 balls, but man, did he make sure this good chance of victory was emphatically grasped.

He hit six sixes in his 40 off 14 balls – that’s a strike rate of 286.71, by the way, if you’re struggling with the maths. No fours, because why bother? The third six, off Thisara Perera, flew high over cow corner, and out of the Milky Way, probably.

Malinga’s bowling plans get messed up

First of all, Malinga himself was having an off night, conceding 12 runs off his first over, and eventually finishing at none for 46 off 3 – an economy rate of 15.33, thanks to Messrs King and Russell. Then, his prize spin-bowling asset, Wanindu Hasaranga, pulled up lame chasing a ball at deep square leg in the second over and had to be rushed off to hospital for scans.

This meant Sri Lanka’s best wicket-taking weapon of the tour didn’t get to bowl a single delivery, and Malinga had to make up those overs with others, with predictable results. (ESPNCricinfo)

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