Fletcher clobbers Sri Lanka bowling as Windies win World T20 clash
BANGALORE, India (CMC):
Andre Fletcher plundered a career-best unbeaten half-century as West Indies extended their imperious form by beating reigning champions Sri Lanka by seven wickets, in their Group One game of the Twenty20 World Cup here yesterday.
For the second time in five days, the Caribbean side produced a successful run chase, this time overhauling a paltry 123 with 10 balls to spare at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Fletcher, included in the side at the expense of seamer Jerome Taylor and then promoted to the opening spot following a hamstring injury to superstar opener Chris Gayle, unfurled a superb unbeaten 84 off 64 deliveries to underpin the Windies run chase.
The right-hander clobbered six fours and five sixes, dominating a 39-run first wicket stand with Johnson Charles (10), before adding a further 55 in an unbroken fourth wicket stand with Andre Russell, whose unbeaten 20 required just eight balls.
"After Gayle went out I told (Dwayne) Bravo, there was something about me, I was just feeling very pumped up," Fletcher told reporters. "When they told me I was going to open I told them I would be positive from ball one."
"I'm very, very happy," Fletcher added. "I've been playing T20 and as soon I get to 50 I've been out. I told myself to try and bat as deep as possible and see if those guys can bat around me. I am so happy and proud of myself, people can see that I can bat through.
"And I am happy that I can help my team to win. I hope I can continue the good form and also the team continue the good performance."
Left-arm spinner Milinda Siriwardana, who finished with two for 33 from his four overs, knocked over Marlon Samuels (3) and Denesh Ramdin (5) cheaply to create some nervousness for West Indies during the middle overs, but Man-of-the-Match Fletcher and Russell stayed calm to see their side to their second win.
West Indies top Group One with four points as the only unbeaten team, while South Africa, Sri Lanka and England all have two points.
Sent in, Sri Lanka struggled from the outset and it was left to Thisara Perera, batting at number seven, to rescue the innings with a cameo 40 from 29 deliveries.
With his side tottering on 47 for five in the ninth over, he and captain Angelo Mathews, who made 20, propped up the innings in a 44-run, sixth wicket partnership.
Mathews, who faced 32 balls and failed to find the boundary once, top-edged a high full toss from medium pacer Dwayne Bravo to wicketkeeper Ramdin in the 17th over and Sri Lanka could only gather 31 runs from the last four overs.
The damage, however, was done up front by leg-spinner Samuel Badree, who claimed three for 12, while Bravo finished with two for 20.
Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn went wicketless but conceded just 12 runs from his four overs, to create massive pressure throughout the innings.